From the Pastor
The readings for today remind me of the martyrs of my country: Monsignor Romero (today a Saint), Father Rutilio Grande, Father Cosme Spessotto, and the laymen Manuel Solórzano and Nelson Lemus, beatified last weekend. I am sure that in every country we have martyrs or prophets who suffer the consequences of being faithful witnesses of God.
It is paradoxical in the life of the prophets that they announce something good, the will of God, and are treated as criminals. This becomes a characteristic hallmark of their lives, to the point that in one passage our Lord announces: “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12). Of course, that hardship faced by the prophets is a severe test that involves loneliness, ridicule, and in the worst cases, persecution, torture, and death.
It is good to remember that Jesus Christ, whom the church salutes as King of Martyrs, is at the head of all that list of distinguished witnesses, and that in his ministry he is undoubtedly first among all the Prophets of God. Jeremiah tries to avoid his vocation. God calls him and he feels unworthy before a task that he knows is difficult and that he feels it will take over his whole life and everything in his life. His apology is simple: “I’m a boy!”
I think it is the same reaction that many young people would have today, considering themselves too young to serve in the ranks of the Most High God. The funny thing is that they don’t feel so “young” when it comes to learning to smoke, getting drunk, or enjoying sex. God did not receive Jeremiah’s apology (and probably would not receive it from our young people today). Rather, God pushed him to follow his path faithfully. But what is interesting is the way to create that fidelity. The basis of fidelity is to believe. God invites him to believe in the One who sends him, because if Jeremiah believes God, he will be able to bet even his own life for God.
One of the tortures of the prophets is the variability of the opinion of the people. For some, public opinion is like a monster with many heads. And so, it is: today’s gospel reading is, although it may not seem like a strict continuation of last week’s reading, where Jesus uses the words of Isaiah to define His mission in terms of setting captives free and healing the blind.
Well, today we read how people show him admiration first, then strangeness, and then loathing. The same ones who applaud him then insult him: this is how Christ’s life will be, until the end: admired and sought after, forgotten and rejected. People treat God’s messengers this way because they treat God this way.
We admire and seek God, seeking only his favors; then we forget and discard Him, turning away from His mandates. We want a god-puppet, who does what we want and does not ask for anything. A god who is at our service and who only speaks to us to tell us: “As you say.” The true God is not like that. To give us goods of his size, he often has to deny those of our size. Let us remain faithful to God’s call, remembering that He is our strength.
Fr. Oscar Mendez, OFM
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