18th Thursday in Ordinary Time
Memorial of St. John Vianney
Jeremiah 31: 31-34; Matthew 16: 13-23
“I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jer. 31:33). We just heard these words from the prophet Jeremiah. God is speaking to His people, assuring them that He Himself is their teacher. All of us who are taught by God are taught to love one another by the mere fact that God is writing His Word upon our hearts. By means of this implanted Word, we discover the path to newness of life. As God promised to His Chosen People, He now speaks intimately to each of us, calling us by name; not just any name, but a name known only between us as intimate friends.
The life of faith is not a recital of rules and regulations. The life of faith is entering into an embrace of love that brings us into communion with the Persons of the Trinity. In that embrace, we come to know that we are loved and forgiven. In this knowledge, we will become Ambassadors of healing and reconciliation for a world scarred with violence and sin. This pardoning mercy flows from the pierced heart of Christ and is freely given to us to be shared with all who are in need of forgiveness.
Having been conformed to Christ in baptism, it is not out job to condemn sinners but to call them back to fullness of life and grace. The mystery of grace is not that we seek to know God, but rather that we come to realize that we are known by Him. Acknowledging this love, we can love others with the same all-consuming love. In a world that continues to seek retribution and to fan the flames of hatred, such love is absolutely revolutionary. The message will not be written on banners or placards, but shall be etched upon the tablets of our hearts. When God pours forth His Spirit upon us, we will not burn the cities of man, but will be consumed by the fire of divine love.
I will close with a few words of Pope Francis, spoken at the prayer vigil in Krakow: “This is no time for denouncing anyone or fighting. We do not want to tear down, we do not want to give insult. We have no desire to conquer hatred with more hatred, violence with more violence, terror with more terror. We are here today because the Lord has called us together. Our response to a world at war has a name: its name is fraternity, its name is brotherhood, its name is communion, and its name is family… Let our best word, our best argument, be our unity in prayer.”