God’s love for us is perfect and God’s fidelity embraces us as we move through our Eucharistic livings. We come together in “con-fidence” the word means “with-faith”. Love casts out fear and so we are not cast down as we move together to be together within that divine embrace.
Jeremiah is receiving his call and mission in our First Reading. All sounds well and good for the first two verses, Jeremiah has been known by the Lord since he was in the womb. The spirit changes in the rest of the reading, because of the twelve verses we do not hear. The kings, princes and priests of the North have been unfaithful to God and have been serving other gods. Guess who has to go up there and deliver the message of God’s call for their return?
Jeremiah is told he has to get ready for an ordeal; he will be resisted and threatened. He will have to remind them of the good things God has done for them, but they have turned away. They will not like what Jeremiah has to say and Jeremiah will not enjoy saying it either, nor the responses God is foretelling he will receive. God does comfort him though with words which remind Jeremiah of the ancient fidelity of God to Israel and her prophets.
Jeremiah will learn, as all the prophets have even to our time, that announcing the truth does not always end in the clover patch. Being summoned by God - chosen, included - does end in being excluded and rejected by those who, independently, decide what their truth is and who will be their god.
The Gospel continues last-week’s story of Jesus’ reading from the prophet Isaiah in His home town synagogue. The town’s folks seem to take pride in Jesus’ being from Nazareth at first. Then Luke has Jesus say something quite provocative. He knows that they have heard of His healings elsewhere and so they expect something special done for them in some sense of civic pride and ownership.
Luke presents Jesus’ quoting two narratives from the Books of Kings. Elijah and Elisha did miracles, but not within the boundaries of the holy land of Israel, but among foreigners, gentiles. His hearers change their spirit from delighted affirmation and expectation to anger and rejection. They are insulted by the inference that they lack faith and so will not receive the healing works of Jesus.
Luke is presenting Jesus to us as a prophet similar to Elijah and Elisha. As with all the prophets, Jesus begins His ministry as He will end it, with rejection fitting a true prophet. Jesus is escorted to the top of a hill where they intend to kill Him. He passes through them heading, in time, toward the Hill in Jerusalem where He will hand over His life freely, obediently, and gratefully.
As with Jeremiah, Jesus has listened to His call and it seems that doing so will put them and those who likewise listen to God’s Word, in conflict with those who listen to other words and ways. God, and listening to God is but one of many ways to live these lives of ours. Many of those other voices allow for selective hearing and avoidance of struggles. There is no expectation of response in the ways the spirit of the world invites. Jesus asks, not for compliance, but a response of gratitude, even through the times of struggling. Jeremiah is sent in our First Reading to prophetically remind the kings of Judea of just how good the God of Israel, the One God, was to them in their pasts. They had wandered into gratification rather than gratitude. Jesus asks for our response for the good He came to give us which is the true sense and meaning of life.
It is simple then, those who follow Jesus and live prophetic gratitude will avoid being seduced by the enticements of our world. These enticements seem to offer either meaning to life, or avoidance of life’s struggles. Jesus came to eat life’s sandwich and drink life’s soup. We who follow Him are invited to the same table. Our town’s folks will not appreciate our values, our ways of walking this earth. We will not avoid the needs of the poor, the cries of the sick, the sufferings of the abandoned. We then will be as strange to our neighbors as Jesus was to His. Not a bad way to go!
“Let your face shine on your servant, and save me by your love. Lord, keep me from shame, for I have called to you.” Ps. 31, 17-18
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