Reflections

Friday of 17th Week of the Year, July 31, 2020

ARE PROPHETS WELCOME?
Introduction
Today the prophet Jeremiah warns the people that their trust in the temple as God’s presence among them is of no value unless they make God present in their lives by living their religion, and the temple will be destroyed as once the Philistines destroyed the sanctuary of Shiloh. The priests and the people threaten to kill Jeremiah.
Jesus is not welcome either among his people, in his town, his home country, for he is disturbing people’s consciences. He confronts them with the challenging reality of God and his ways. Christ shakes his people from their security in laws and outward practices. How dare he, one from their own town and street? Who does he think he is? Dare we to be the prophet’s voice needed today? Dare we to be unconventional? We fail to value the message and often disregard the messenger. We lose.

Opening Prayer
Lord our God,
we are but timid people,
and yet you expect of us
to speak the word of your Son
by the witnessing of our lives.
We pray you for the courage
to live the kind of life
that your Son lived
and to follow him wherever he leads us
without the luggage of our securities.
Grant us this conviction
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Reading: Jeremiah 26:1-9
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, king of Judah, this message came from the LORD: Thus says the LORD: Stand in the court of the house of the LORD and speak to the people of all the cities of Judah who come to worship in the house of the LORD; whatever I command you, tell them, and omit nothing. Perhaps they will listen and turn back, each from his evil way, so that I may repent of the evil I have planned to inflict upon them for their evil deeds. Say to them: Thus says the LORD: If you disobey me, not living according to the law I placed before you and not listening to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I send you constantly though you do not obey them, I will treat this house like Shiloh, and make this the city to which all the nations of the earth shall refer when cursing another. Now the priests, the prophets, and all the people heard Jeremiah speak these words in the house of the LORD. When Jeremiah finished speaking all that the LORD bade him speak to all the people, the priests and prophets laid hold of him, crying, “You must be put to death! Why do you prophesy in the name of the LORD: ‘This house shall be like Shiloh,’ and ‘This city shall be desolate and deserted’?” And all the people gathered about Jeremiah in the house of the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm 69:5, 8-10, 14
R. (14c) Lord, in your great love, answer me.

Those outnumber the hairs of my head
who hate me without cause.
Too many for my strength
are they who wrongfully are my enemies.
Must I restore what I did not steal? R.

Since for your sake I bear insult,
and shame covers my face.
I have become an outcast to my brothers,
a stranger to my mother’s sons,
Because zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me. R.

But I pray to you, O LORD,
for the time of your favor, O God!
In your great kindness answer me
with your constant help. R.

Alleluia: 1 Peter 1:25
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of the Lord remains forever;
this is the word that has been proclaimed to you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel: Matthew 13:54-58
Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his native place and in his own house.” And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.

Commentary
Both Jesus and Jeremiah were prophets who were not honoured in their own country. Although the people were amazed at Jesus’ learning and insight, he was such a “local boy” that he could not be taken seriously. Jeremiah’s message was so threatening with reference to the temple and the city that it seemed sacrilegious and out of place. The best solution was to be rid of the prophet.
In many ways we are not much different. We settle into a particular way of thinking and make what we hear conform to that. We see acts of violence perpetrated against innocent people. When we wage a war we see only one side and fail to see the hurt that may be present in the opposition. We sometimes exploit the natural resources of poorer countries and then fail to understand their resentment.
Let us try to have an open and understanding spirit. The law of averages tells us that there are times when we will be right and times when we will be wrong. At least we want to try to comprehend what others are saying. It is surprising to see how much we can change and learn from others.

Intercessions
– That the Spirit of Christ may inspire our leaders of the Church with prophetic zeal to lead our people to true Christian freedom, we pray:
– That there may be prophets also among us today, however annoying we may find them, to remind us of what God expects of us, we pray:
– That the world of today may not turn a deaf ear to the voices of prophets who plead for peace and justice for all, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
we want this bread and wine to signify
that as we share your Son’s table
we also accept to be with him
signs of contradiction.
Let him change us
from weak and faint-hearted people
into people with the courage
to live as we believe
and to speak out boldly
for all that is right and good,
as Jesus did, your Son,
who lives with you and with us for ever.

Prayer after Communion
Lord our God,
your Son Jesus has spoken among us
prophetic words and deeds
of courage and self-giving.
Make us bold enough
to go with him his way to people,
even if the best of our Intercessions
are misunderstood.
We say so in fear and trembling,
but we want to be humble disciples
of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Blessing
We should learn to listen to prophets, people who have something to say that is perhaps not pleasing but to the point. And we too should have the courage to speak up when needed, especially when we see injustice done to people. May almighty God give you this courage and bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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