Tuesday of 18th Week of the Year, August 4, 2020

The prophet Jeremiah first reminds the people of the punishment for their infidelity, but then he opens the perspectives to a beautiful restoration, when Israel shall be again God’s people and God will be their God.
Normally, on the streets and alleys one witnesses the presence of blind beggars guided by sighted young men or women, often, their own broods. However, many times I have imagined how blind guides would lead others who are equally blind on the hazardous Nigerian roads and walkways. How they would maneuver their way in the ever-busy, craggy terrains, and in Lagos, particularly, having to deal with impatient pedestrians, reckless okada/keke riders and their ubiquitous nauseating accomplices, the yellow bus drivers. They would not reach home. Jesus means. It would be fatal adventure. Leading to the grave. So also, when we behave like the Pharisees, we become blind guides. Let’s do some discernment. Personal and truly repentant knowing that we are all in need of Jesus.

Opening Prayer
Lord our God,
there is a constant tension in us
between fear and faith
as we are battling with the winds and the waves
that threaten our faithfulness to the Gospel.
Make us accept Lord,
that faith is never secure
or acquired once and for all.
Make it grow in us day after day,
that we may not be faint-hearted
but resolutely follow your Son,
Jesus Christ, our Lord.

1 Reading: Jeremiah 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22
The following message came to Jeremiah from the LORD: For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Write all the words I have spoken to you in a book. For thus says the LORD: Incurable is your wound, grievous your bruise; There is none to plead your cause, no remedy for your running sore, no healing for you. All your lovers have forgotten you, they do not seek you. I struck you as an enemy would strike, punished you cruelly; Why cry out over your wound? your pain is without relief. Because of your great guilt, your numerous sins, I have done this to you. Thus says the LORD: See! I will restore the tents of Jacob, his dwellings I will pity; City shall be rebuilt upon hill, and palace restored as it was. From them will resound songs of praise, the laughter of happy men. I will make them not few, but many; they will not be tiny, for I will glorify them. His sons shall be as of old, his assembly before me shall stand firm; I will punish all his oppressors. His leader shall be one of his own, and his rulers shall come from his kin. When I summon him, he shall approach me; how else should one take the deadly risk of approaching me? says the LORD. You shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Responsorial Psalm 102:16-18, 19-21, 29 AND 22-23
R. (17) The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.

The nations shall revere your name, O LORD,
and all the kings of the earth your glory,
When the LORD has rebuilt Zion
and appeared in his glory;
When he has regarded the prayer of the destitute,
and not despised their prayer. R.

Let this be written for the generation to come,
and let his future creatures praise the LORD:
“The LORD looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.” R.

The children of your servants shall abide,
and their posterity shall continue in your presence,
That the name of the LORD may be declared on Zion;
and his praise, in Jerusalem,
When the peoples gather together
and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD. R.

Alleluia John 1:49B
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Rabbi, you are the Son of God;
you are the King of Israel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Matthew 15:1-2.10-14
Some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They do not wash their hands when they eat a meal.” He summoned the crowd and said to them, “Hear and understand. It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles the man; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.” Then his disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” He said in reply, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”

There were many times in the Old Testament when Yahweh threatened his people with punishment. But he relented. In yesterday’s Gospel, Peter steps out boldly on the water to meet the Master but soon begins to sink. Christ’s extended hand saves him from drowning. Then there is the sinful woman of the Gospels whose accusers wanted to stone. Scarcely able to speak in her shame, she receives forgiveness from Jesus without reproach.
Jeremiah today sees a sinful Israel. Struck in her sinfulness and crying out in her wounds, Israel senses deeply her alienation. But Yahweh pledges a rebuilding and resettlement, a city on a hill and a splendid palace, with songs of laughter and of praise. It is a new and restored Jerusalem, a place where forgiveness has been assured.
We have all been guilty of sin, some more serious than others. But those sins, once as red as scarlet, are now white as snow. The saddest thing is to slink away and wallow in our guilt. It takes no more than an act of sorrow. What was true in Jeremiah’s time is equally true today. Lord, forgive me a repentant sinner.

– For the Church, when it has to pass through difficult moments of persecution, ridicule or inner conflict, that it may keep trusting in the Lord, we pray:
– For Christians beset by doubts or facing hard decisions of conscience, that they may see the hand Jesus extends to them, we pray:
– For people who have to do dangerous work, that the Lord may protect them we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
You wish to reassure us,
Lord our God,
how much you are with us
through him who is our food and drink,
your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through him, give us the power
to walk the stormy road of faith
and to take the risks of love,
that we may overcome our fears
and make his reassuring word
the foundation of our life and work
now and till the end of time.

Prayer after Communion
Our all-powerful God,
you invite us through Jesus, your Son,
to leave our timid security
and to come across the water with him
in commitment to you and to our neighbor.
Even though, we do not see his hand
put out to us and holding us,
give us enough faith to be certain
that with him, we shall overcome
and build up your future in our human world,
until he leads us across to you,
our God, for ever and ever.

You are our God and our creator, O Lord. Look upon your people with mercy and compassion and take the shame of our sins away from us. May Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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