Tuesday of 17th Week of the Year, July 28, 2020

We hear the prayer of the people – a prayer probably composed by Jeremiah himself – appealing to God in time of war and famine. It is like a penitential celebration expressing trust in the Lord and the hope to be spared.
Jesus explains the parable of the wheat and the weeds. Good and evil will always coexist in the Church and in the world, until God’s good time comes. The word of the Lord should perhaps help us to be patient and understanding with the all too human aspects of the Church of the past and of our day. The good will ultimately triumph; we have this assurance, while we already work in the present to purify the Church and ourselves.

Opening Prayer
Lord our God,
sower and lover of all that is good,
we are the times impatient
about the human weaknesses
of your Church and its leaders and members.
Help us not to condemn too easily
but to look at our own defects,
and to work with all our might
to reveal in us and in your Church
the genuine face of Jesus,
by the strength of your own Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Reading: Jeremiah 14:7-22
Let my eyes stream with tears day and night, without rest, over the great destruction which overwhelms the virgin daughter of my people, over her incurable wound. If I walk out into the field, look! those slain by the sword; If I enter the city, look! those consumed by hunger. Even the prophet and the priest forage in a land they know not. Have you cast Judah off completely? Is Zion loathsome to you? Why have you struck us a blow that cannot be healed? We wait for peace, to no avail; for a time of healing, but terror comes instead. We recognize, O LORD, our wickedness, the guilt of our fathers; that we have sinned against you. For your name’s sake spurn us not, disgrace not the throne of your glory; remember your covenant with us, and break it not. Among the nations’ idols is there any that gives rain? Or can the mere heavens send showers? Is it not you alone, O LORD, our God, to whom we look? You alone have done all these things.

Responsorial Psalm 79:8, 9, 11 AND 13
R. (9) For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.

Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
may your compassion quickly come to us,
for we are brought very low. R.

Help us, O God our savior,
because of the glory of your name;
Deliver us and pardon our sins
for your name’s sake. R.

Let the prisoners’ sighing come before you;
with your great power free those doomed to death.
Then we, your people and the sheep of your pasture,
will give thanks to you forever;
through all generations we will declare your praise. R.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower;
all who come to him will live for ever.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Matthew 13:36-43
Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom. The weeds are the children of the Evil One, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

Jeremiah today looks out over a pillaged and beleaguered Judah. She has reaped the punishment so often predicted. The picture could have been different had the population so decided. But even if the country is faithless, God remains faithful. And so Jeremiah utters a heartfelt plea for forgiveness. It is futile to turn to “do-nothing gods.” Is it not true that God made but we choose to worship the gods made by our own hands, desires and imaginations? It is to the covenant that the prophet returns and asks the Lord to forget it not.
The history of Christianity has seen repeated examples of infidelity. The people of the new covenant disregarded their special status no less than the people of old. But forgiveness requested has been forgiveness attained. If we are contrite of heart, all wrongs can be righted. The prophets never failed to turn to the Lord after punishment.
One of the clearest signs of contrition is our willingness to forgive others or to ask for forgiveness. In fact, the New Testament uses this as a yardstick to measure God’s forgiveness. We have all suffered hurts. But a magnanimous spirit rises above them. As we ask God’s forgiveness, let us never forget to extend our own.

– That intimate prayer to the Lord may lighten up our faces and our lives, we pray:
– That however humble our task in the Church, the Spirit of the Lord may give us the courage to speak out for what is right and good, we pray:
– That we may not usurp God’s task of separating the weeds from the wheat in the Church, but leave the judgment to him, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
for the sake of your covenant
we pray you for the bread of strength
of your Son Jesus Christ.
Let him cure us from all our ills
and lead us to you, our God,
who are our hope and trust
now and for ever.

Prayer after Communion
Lord our God,
you want us to be with you
sowers of goodness in this world,
of hope and peace, of freedom and joy.
Use us as we are,
with our assets and faults,
that we may share in the passion
and resurrection of your Son
and bring this world to a new birth
through him who is our Savior,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

God lets his sun shine on good and bad alike. We are not the judges of the Church or of the world: let God do the judging. Pray that he keeps us faithful. May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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