02 February 2013

BY THAT LOVE

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lk 4:21-30 (Jer 1:4-5, 17-19 / Ps 71 / 1 Cor 12:31-13:13)

When the risen Jesus discussed with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus all that is said in the Scriptures concerning Him, as we read in Lk 24:13-31, He must have given an extra lecture on the Prophet Jeremiah.  In the light of the demands God made on him, and the kind of opposition and rejection he endured, the Prophet Jeremiah foreshadowed Jesus in many ways.

Jeremiah lived in the days when the Judean monarchy, that had Jerusalem as its capital, was collapsing.  He was yet a young man when the Word of the Lord came to him, as we have in the first reading today, sending him to his own people to convert from their evil ways.  A noble vocation indeed Jeremiah had but, as it turned out, it caused him unbearable suffering.  Called by rabbis as the “Weeping Prophet”, Jeremiah spoke of sorrow, announcing the coming destitution of his own people and witnessing the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.  Thus, it is easy to see why his own rejected and persecuted him.

In many ways, the sufferings of the Prophet Jeremiah foreshadowed Jesus’ own sufferings.  Both Jeremiah and Jesus were rejected by the religious leaders of their time (Jer 26:7-8 and Jn 11:47-53).  People of their own hometowns plotted against them (Jer 11:21 and Lk 4:28-30).  They were both denounced by the synagogue officials of their day (Jer 20:1-2 and Jn 18:13-24).  As Jeremiah was the “Weeping Prophet” so did Jesus weep over Jerusalem (Jer 9:1 and Lk 19:41).  Falsely accused, both Jeremiah and Jesus were beaten (Jer 37:12-15 and Mt 26:61; 27:26).  But through all these tribulations and undeserved pain, both Jeremiah the Prophet and Jesus the Christ remained faithful to their calling and to God Himself.  Though the Prophet, at the brink of despair, cursed the day he was born, he nonetheless, like the Christ, was not deterred by any persecution from accomplishing the mission God gave him.  Unlike Jesus though, Jeremiah was told by God of his own need to repent, for God would put a new heart in him and thereby God’s Spirit would, by inner locution, guide him.  Only then, would Jeremiah the Prophet grasp the meaning of God’s promise to him, the promise that concludes the first reading today: “…I am with you to deliver you.”

We are no Jeremiahs.  But we are Christians.  We are so intimately united to Christ that we are members of His mystical Body.  By virtue of our baptismal consecration, we share in the prophetic mission of Jesus just as we share in His kingly and priestly roles.  As Jesus’ kingly mission means humble service and not lording over others, and His priestly mission is the offering of one’s life to God, so does His prophetic role, in which we share, demands from us our authentic witnessing to His Kingdom through words and deeds.  Are we willing to be prophets for Jesus?  Can we be God’s Jeremiahs, too?  And like Jeremiah and Jesus, will we remain faithful to our prophetic mission through every tribulation and in all anguish that come with the calling?

But it is not brute courage or sheer willpower that will make us endure.  Not only is our strength in love; love alone is our strength.  The kind of love that St. Paul the Apostle describes in the second reading today from his First Letter to the Corinthians: patient, kind, not jealous, not pompous, not inflated, not rude, not self-seeking, not quick-tempered, does not brood over injury, does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all thing, endures all things.  It is the love that never fails even should prophecies themselves fail.  It is the love that, among the two others that remain in the end – faith and hope, is the greatest.  Do we have that kind of love?  Do we really love like Jesus?

It is, indeed, the love of Jesus.  That love is our strength, our courage, and our power not only in fulfilling our prophetic mission but also in bearing every trial that goes with that mission.  With that love, no persecution is so great and no rejection so deterrent for us.  By that love, we prophesy with our lives not with our lips.  In that love we embrace even those who hate us.

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