In the first reading at Mass today (Jeremiah 14:17-22), we hear a lament from the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah’s lament indicates that the people are suffering from plague, war and famine. In response, Jeremiah makes a general confession of the people’s’ sins and a profession of faith. Most people, if they are honest with themselves, are quick to acknowledge their failures in the moral life (this is what is meant when people say, “If I were to go into a church it would fall down.”). However, regretting the sorry state of affairs that results from sin is different from being sorry to God for having sinned. The latter requires a profession of faith in the God who is all good. For this reason, let us be quick to acknowledge our sinfulness, but even quicker to turn to God and ask forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
In the Gospel at Mass today we hear Jesus tell the parable of the yeast: “The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened” (Matthew 13:33). I’ve heard that three measures of flour weighs about sixty pounds and is enough to feed about a hundred people. The key is that only a little yeast is necessary to leaven the entire batch. We can see the same power in our own lives. A small touch of grace can radically reorient our lives towards the Kingdom. Or we could think of the example of the saints, the saints are the yeast that make the whole world rise. May we be open to receiving grace, and being kneaded, so that we can be a leaven for our communities.
Lord, increase our joy in following you!
Filmed at St Theresa’s Parish, Billerica, Massachusetts.
Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Some people think that the quality of one’s breeding can be measured by the size of his paycheck. A better indicator, however, is the amount of virtue found in one’s life. Our Lady was never rich with the goods of this world, but she was always rich with the things of heaven on account of grace and the way she lived. Many parents give money to their children. Good parents pass on virtues to their children. Money can be squandered, but virtues are taken up even to heaven! Through the intercession of Saints Joachim and Anne may we pass on virtues to our children.
In 1st Corinthians 4:7 St Paul writes, “we hold this treasure in earthen vessels.” For me, as a priest, this passage has particular importance. Sometimes I look at my hands and think about how I use them to consecrate, absolve, anoint, or bless. It is humbling to think of the sacred power which Holy Orders gives. But, 1st Corinthians 4:7 is of great importance to more than just the ordained. The Sacraments are celebrated in our Church. The Eucharist is reserved in our parish. In our bodies we receive the Sacraments. God’s grace is a bigger treasure than we could imagine. Our frailty as earthen vessels is weaker than we want to admit. Our weakness and sinfulness, however, don’t stop God from letting us hold the treasure of his presence. Thank you, Lord, for letting us carry such precious treasure!
Today we cry out with the psalmist, “With you is the fountain of life, O Lord” (Psalm 36:10). Only Jesus gives us the living water which wells up to eternal life. Faith is not something we come up with on our own; it is a gift to be received. Further, faith is a gift God loves to give! How blest are we when we receive faith and recognize the workings of God’s grace in our lives!
In the first reading at Mass today we hear about the calling of the Prophet Jeremiah. Speaking to Jeremiah, God says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you” (Jeremiah 1:5). God had a special plan for Jeremiah that existed since the beginning of time. God has had a special plan for each of us since the beginning, too. Providence is another name for this plan. At times we may not be sure of how God wants us to think or act in a particular situation, but we should never think that God doesn’t have a plan for us. Even in difficult moments God’s plan is for our happiness. My prayer today is that we may trust Divine Providence and that God’s plan may be more clearly revealed to each of us.
Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St Mary Magdalene. St Mary teaches us that our future need not be bound to the sins of our past and that great love empowers us to accompany others in their suffering. This is why we shouldn’t look down on someone because of their past. God’s grace is a springboard that launches us past our faults so that we can love as God loves–unconditionally. St Mary Magdalene, pray for us!
In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus say, “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but not sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet” (Matthew 12:39). We should receive this saying as a rebuke to the way of thinking which says, “unless _____ happens, I will not believe,” or “if _____ happens, then I will commit myself to following the Lord.” Simply put, all Jesus asks of us is our love and our faith. True love doesn’t have preconditions. Faith is an ascent of the will; a choice to believe God’s revealed word as true. If we try to place preconditions or demands for signs in the way of our following of Jesus, then we will never have faith. Faith is not a quid pro quo with God, nor is it something bartered. Faith is a choice which is rooted in love. May we leave our preconditions and demands behind and approach Jesus with empty hands!
In the Responsorial Psalm this morning we sing: “Do not forget the poor, O Lord!” God has special love for the poor. We, ourselves, should manifest our love for the poor by what we say and what we do. Caring for and loving the poor is not optional. Our Lord says as much in Matthew 25:31-46 as does the Letter to the Hebrews 13:1-3. We have to be careful of making the mistake to think that the poor are only those with limited financial resources. Included in the poor is any person who is in a state of suffering. The poor and marginalized are often looked over because it is not usually convenient to be with someone in their suffering. We need to leave our comfort in order to show mercy and be in solidarity with our poor brothers and sisters. Lord, make us friends of the poor!