|Jeremiah 1:1, 4-10
Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15, 17
But the Lord answered me, Say not, "I am too young." -- Jeremiah 1:7
Boy, do I identify with the excuse-maker Jeremiah!
"I can't speak . . . I'm too young . . . I'm too busy . . . I'm in a hurry . . . I'm too weak . . . I'm, well, just too scared" and on and on and on.
This type of response seems almost bred in our bones. I ask my kids to clean their rooms, or to tidy up the mess they've made in the basement, or help clear the table, or help carry the groceries in from the car.
"But, Dad, I didn't mess it up! Dad, my hands are already full! Dad, you promised I could watch TV!" Before I get too angry with them, I have to remember that they probably learned all that stuff from me.
No wonder the Lord abruptly cuts off Jeremiah's childish excuse-making. I can almost hear Him: "Oh, stop it! I've been forming you for this job since before you were born, so just suck it up and trust me! I'm here for you, and we're going to be just fine!"
Like Jeremiah or my own kids, or any other practiced narcissist, I spend too much time listening to myself instead of listening to God. When I'm challenged to be what God intended me to be, the excuses flow thick and fast.
Has a colleague at work been unjustly accused? Is it right to stand up and support that person? If I'm listening to myself, I'll find some compelling excuse to avoid rocking the boat or, worse, join the chorus of blame. If I'm attuned to God, my behavior will be different.
Is there some tough or dirty or boring volunteer job that needs doing? If I'm listening to myself, I'm wrapped up in everything I need to do for myself and I'll never get around to anything else. But if I have ears to hear God, I might just pitch in to help make our community better.
The fertile ground described in today's Gospel, the ground that yields a hundred- or sixty- or thirty-fold, is a massive plot located square in the middle of the country of my own heart. Wonderful things take root there: The impulse to love and care for my family . . . the yearning to create and protect beauty . . . . the care and concern that I have for the deprived, the oppressed, the wounded, the world's little ones . . . charity, hope, simple faith. God created the ground and planted the seed, but it is up to me to bring forth the fruit. This choice is real. I'm free to do or to neglect the work. Free to do any little thing that will help build up the Kingdom. And free to be lost in self-obsession.
Someone once told me that my life was none of my business.
That was long years ago, and I didn't get it. Still don't.
But I think I'm starting to understand. I pray that when today's
challenge comes, I will trust God enough to just shut up and do the work.
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