Immersed in Christ: July 22, 2020
Wednesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
also, Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene
The Responsorial Psalm alerts us to look for hope in Jeremiah, whom we will read for the next two weeks: “I will sing of your salvation” (Psalm 71).
Jeremiah 1: 1-10 first calls Jeremiah himself to have confidence as God’s minister: “Have no fear… because I am with you…. See, I place my words in your mouth!” But the call to confidence also extends to us. Jeremiah is sent, not just to “root up and to tear down,” but above all “to build and to plant.” Ministry from God is always a ministry of promise, a ministry that gives hope based on confidence, not in what we can do, but in what God intends to do.
Typically, the role of the prophets was to identify the cause of whatever diminishment of life and happiness the people had brought on themselves (and the cause was always a failure to believe and follow God’s words) but also, out of their divinely-inspired knowledge of God’s steadfast love and fidelity, to give hope with the promise of deliverance. “Repentance” in the Scriptures is a joyful word, because the call to repentance is always accompanied by the promise of the gift of a new level and richness of life that only God can give. This is what every Christian minister should keep in mind when calling people to change.
Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed … A new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 18:31; 36:26).
In Matthew 13: 1-9 Jesus says his words are like seeds sown to give life a “hundred or sixty or thirty-fold.” The power of God is in his words. Jesus said it: “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” And the early Christians referred to his teaching as “the word of life” (John 6:63; Philippians 2:16; 1John 1:11).
But God does not save us unilaterally. We have to cooperate. The survival and fruitfulness of the seed — even of God’s word — depends on the kind of ground that receives it. We need to keep this in mind as ministers: not just to avoid becoming discouraged with ourselves, but also to remind us to teach people how to prepare their hearts to hear God speaking to them, and how to make his words bear fruit in their lives. The attitudes and values implanted by the “beaten path” of culture, often unrecognized, can make us impervious to Jesus’ words. Listening only superficially, without deep thought, can keep them from taking root. Attachment to the passing but present gratifications of this world can choke out our initial responses. As workers in Christ’s vineyard we have to break ground, water and hoe as well as sow seed.
Initiative: Be a priest. Without discouragement keep “singing of salvation.”
View Today's Readings Here