August 28, 2011 22nd Sunday Ordinary Time
The job of the Christian is to overcome evil with good. In 2011 recognizing evil has become much more difficult. The evil of untruth is routinely propagated and camouflaged within a language context which may contain some truth, but is designed to avoid the real truth in the hopes of escaping being recognized as an outright lie. Tell an untruth enough times and the untruth may be accepted by some as the truth. We Christians are called to reshape culture rather than submit to culture.
In the gospel we hear Mathew tells us Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.
Were you paying attention? Let’s see! How did Jesus tell them?
One day, while I reading a book, my 3 year old grand daughter told me she had learned the Lord’s prayer. She asked, do you want to hear it? I said sure, as I continued to read. My grand daughter asked again, do you want to listen to me Paw Paw? Sure I said, go ahead I am listening! No Paw Paw, I want you to listen to me with your eyes.
Jesus was teaching his disciples to listen with more than their eyes so they could learn to discern the truth – listening with one eyes is the secret to discerning the truth hidden within behavior – does it match the spoken word.
It is very very difficult not to conform to the wonder and image of this age! The technological advances in our world has lead people to work overtime creating pleasing language and visual images designed to support an agenda rather than address truth. Should we look closely at behavior, we often discover ones behavior does not support the images and the words spoken. The truth is always the truth. A lie surrounded with words we want to hear is still always is a lie.
We cannot separate Jesus from the Cross. The way Jesus taught was through the example he set for his disciples! Jesus knew he must walk the walk for the lessons to be heard with the eye and thus understood. When one lives the truth one may have to suffer.
The Catechism teaches in the process of conversion; one must recognize the Lord exists, one must suffer and then become converted. We don’t get to skip the suffering. Listen – suffer!
Oh Lord – set me on your knee. Oh Lord won’t you set me on your knee.
Though I scared, tired and worn, it’s on your knee that I’m reborn.
Oh Lord set me on your knee.
On your knee is where the stories are told, that give me courage and make me bold. Oh Lord won’t you set me on your knee.
From your knee I can clearly see you are the only source of truth that sets me free. Oh Lord set me on your knee.
To be discouraged and yet find beauty in the fire of the spirit buried within suffering, trial and discouragement, paints the picture of one who accepts a prophetic call. The Lord calls each of us by name to transform the world. His call causes us to search our hearts to the bone for the truth.
Are we content where we stand? Are we who we want to be? Are we communicating the truth in how we act and speak? Are we thirsting for answers that bring us joy?
In the reading from Jeremiah, we hear the prophet Jeremiah loudly lamenting his situation in life. Jeremiah was in the midst of an internal crises. We hear him complaining bitterly about being duped by the Lord. All of his prophetic skills and talents at this point had been used only to root out and tear down. Jeremiah had become a prophet of doom. Can’t you hear Jeremiah asking the lord, “When Lord, do I get to play the part of the good guy prophet?” Perhaps Jeremiah was a little incredulous himself. When do I get to rejoice in the pride of my prophetic calling? When do I get to be recognized and accepted as the good guy by the people around me?
This pericope from Jeremiah is a passionate soliloquy. It’s as if Jeremiah is being goaded by the despair of his day. Though Jeremiah is lamenting, he admits that God’s word is like a consuming fire rising in his bones. This disclosure speaks to us about the nature of inspiration that merges from within the discouragement and hardship of the prophetic calling. Hope!
If we listen to Jeremiahs passionate lament with only our ears, we might miss seeing the spiritual results of the fire burning in his my heart, imprisoned in his bones; escaping as he grows weary holding it in, for he cannot hold it in.
Dear God, so far today I’ve done all right. I haven’t gossiped, I haven’t lost my temper. I haven’t lied or cheated. I haven’t been grumpy, greedy, nasty, selfish or over indulgent. I am thankful for that indeed. In a few moments Lord, I’m going to get out of bed. From then on, I’ll need your help.