Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 1Kings 7:40-42
"So Huram finished all the work he had undertaken for King Solomon in the temple of the LORD: the two pillars; the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars; the two sets of network decorating the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars; the four hundred pomegranates for the two sets of network (two rows of pomegranates for each network, decorating the bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars..." (1Ki 7:40-42).
Four hundred brazen pomegranates complemented the two great pillars of Stability and Strength -- Jachin and Boaz -- at the entrance of the Temple. The pomegranate is a very special fruit in the divine imagery: it is the essence of all fruit. It was on the border of the High Priest's robe (Exo 39:24), with the golden bells of salvation and praise. Cut through transversely, the pomegranate has twelve sections, arranged around the center like the camps of the twelve Tribes around the Tabernacle. It is full of white, pearl-like seeds in a red fluid, and seems to represent a multitudinous unity purified in the blood of the Lamb. In the Song of Songs, the Bride is said to have temples like the halves of a pomegranate (Song 4:3; 6:7); the eastern pomegranate is light golden brown with a tinge of pink, and the physical resemblance is striking. Also, the association of the multitudinous Bride with the pomegranate and the Temple is, in itself, a powerful and thought-provoking spiritual image.
Reading 2 - Jeremiah 33:14-16
"In reference to this good time which is near at hand it is written, 'Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel, and to the house of Judah. In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of Righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely; and this is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness' (Jer 23:5,6; 33:14-16; Eze 48:35; Isa 24:23). The Kingdom of God, then, has existed once, but, for the present, exists 'no more' [Eze 21:25-27]. It existed from the fourteenth to the twenty-eighth generation [Mat 1:17], a period of rather more than a thousand years; but it has been extinct upwards of two thousand five hundred years -- a time so long that the promise of its restoration has become a mere fable, or speculation, in the estimation of the world! But the believer in the gospel of this kingdom rejoices in the sure and certain hope of its restitution, and glorious and triumphant existence for a thousand years, at the expiration of which kingdoms on earth will be no more, but God will be all and in all" (John Thomas, "Elpis Israel").
Reading 3 - Mark 7:32-35
"There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man. After HE TOOK HIM ASIDE, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man's ears. Then he spit and touched the man's tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, 'Ephathah', which means, 'Be opened.' At this, the man's ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly" (Mar 7:32-35).
"The Lord God has given His Son the tongue of the learned that he might speak a word in season to him that is weary. Sometimes our ears are dull of hearing, and when they are we usually find that we have also an impediment in our speech. To take us away from the multitude to the isolation of a sick bed, or into that mental detachment which comes from solitude, is perhaps the only way towards healing which will give us ears to hear the joyful sound of his Gospel, and voice to speak forth his praise" (Melva Purkis, "A Life of Jesus" 204).