August 3, 2012
Fr. John Denburger, OCSO
17th Friday in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 26: 1 - 9; Ps 69; Matthew 13: 54 - 58
In reading the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, it soon becomes clear from the leaders’ treatment of Jeremiah that he is a type of Christ, the suffering Servant. In today’s reading we hear the angry opposition to his words, their wrath directed to him, “You must be put to death!” In the face of all this, a question can to my mind: with their wrath, before their power did Jeremiah still have the conviction that it was the Lord who had given him this message? As a human being, what did he feel at that moment?
Jesus came to His native place and the people’s astonishment was not one of admiration, rather it was one of questioning. Presuming on their knowledge of Him, it led them to say, “We know Him; where did He get all this?”Because of His wisdom and His mighty deeds they took offense at Him. St. Matthew comments, “And He did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.” It is interesting to note that St. Matthew says “not many mighty deeds” rather than “no mighty deeds”
Both Jeremiah and the Lord Jesus experienced terrible opposition of people who not only lacked faith but who also were not beyond murder. Both Jeremiah and Jesus had to be silenced. Yet, both continued in their mission; they did not allow the negative reaction, the closed-mindedness of others to take away their freedom to be servants of God.
Perhaps, words like those of Psalm 56 were in their hearts and gave them strength in their affliction:
“In God I trust, I shall not fear:
what can mortal man do to me?
This I know, that God is on my side...
What can mortal man do to me?”
In our own lives we too can surely pray this because in life there is temptation, opposition, poor example that can challenge, cause doubts, resentment, even a desire for retaliation and these can and do limit our freedom to be God’s servants. Since God, who is our strength, is on our side, what can mortals do to us? Let us pray with steadfast desire and courage for the grace never to surrender the grace of freedom to believe, to hope, to love in whatever trial may come our way.