- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

Homily for July 31, 2020

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Jeremiah 26:1-9, Matthew 13:54-58

The words God spoke to the prophet are disturbing and heart-rending. “tell the people whatever I command you… and just maybe they will listen and be converted” (Jer. 26:2-3). Consider these words in light of this passage taken from the Letter to the Romans: “How can they call on God to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear the message unless someone tells them? (Rom. 10:14)

We live in a time very similar to that of Jeremiah the prophet. Many people have lost their anchor. They go their own way with no one to lead them. The prophet Zechariah put it quite clearly. “The people wander like sheep; they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd” (Zech. 10:20. Because Christ is close to the heart of the Father, he shows compassion for the lost sheep. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Mat. 9:36). Because the Only-begotten Son does what he sees his Father do, Jesus incarnates the words spoken by Ezekiel. “I myself will shepherd my sheep. I myself will give them a place to lie down in peace” (Ezek. 34:15).

The Lord calls those who are willing to listen by name. To those who respond to his call, he shows his infinite mercy. He who is the God of mercy and compassion desires the restoration of all people in love and grace. He who is the source of light and life desires to liberate those lost in darkness and the valley of death. If they respond to his call and surrender to his gentle touch, he will bring them back to the fold. He comes to their aid in times of persecution and temptation. If they are willing to surrender to his love and care for them, he will lead them to green pastures where they can rest in his loving embrace. However, if we refuse to believe in his desire to heal us, if we refuse to surrender to his love and care for us, we cannot be healed. The Lord freely speaks a word of love and forgiveness, but we have to be willing to receive the living word and allow it to take root in our hearts. My brothers let us listen to the words of the Lord only then will we be numbered among those who have made their peace with God.

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, All I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me. (Suscipe, St. Ignatius of Loyola)