All three readings for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time address the yet-to-be-redeemed within each of us that is crying out for freedom. This cry for freedom within is also a cry for help from God. The suffering this entails is filled with the presence of God at work in our hearts.
The readings for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time clearly illustrate the power of God establishing His leadership in whomever He chooses, including weak human beings such as you and me. In the first reading, we don’t know why God transfers authority from Shebna, master of the palace, to Eliakim. Perhaps it was for mismanagement. Might this hint of the future transfer of power from the self-appointed scribes and Pharisees to the Apostles? Might this also help us understand the fierce hatred the scribes and Pharisees had for Jesus in a later age?
The readings for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time demonstrate very simply that God intends His message of salvation for all people.
The first reading makes this very evident. Foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, who "keep the Sabbath free from profanation, and hold to my covenant, them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer...." The people of Isaiah's time felt that only the chosen people would be joined to the Lord. However, God says, "...for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples."
Perhaps it could be said that the first and third readings of the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time really address the question: "Just when and where in our lives will the Lord show up next?"
In the first reading, Elijah fled to the mountain of God, Horeb, to seek refuge with the Lord. He was angry and depressed because Jezebel had sent an army after him to kill him. After he had given a mighty demonstration of God's power against false gods on Mount Carmel, he slew 400 false prophets. This angered Jezebel, so she sought his life.
The readings for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time are about God inviting us to partake of His goodness so that we might find our true purpose in life.
The first reading from Isaiah speaks to human needs that are much deeper than physical hunger and thirst. When the Lord invites His people to come and drink fresh water, receive grain and eat, drink wine and milk, He is speaking more to their spiritual needs than to their physical needs.
The dry desert makes the body thirsty in the same way that worldliness causes our spirits to thirst for Him.
In the first reading of the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the young king Solomon has been chosen to be king of Israel, even though he's very young and inexperienced in leadership. God appears to Solomon in a dream and invites him to ask for a gift and He will give it to him.
Solomon could have asked for the gift of administration, or leadership training, or a council of elders to help him rule. Instead, he asks for "an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong."