Friday, August 26, 2011


Reading 1 Jer 20:7-9

You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped;
you were too strong for me, and you triumphed.
All the day I am an object of laughter;
everyone mocks me.

Whenever I speak, I must cry out,
violence and outrage is my message;
the word of the LORD has brought me
derision and reproach all the day.

I say to myself, I will not mention him,
I will speak in his name no more.
But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,
imprisoned in my bones;
I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.

[This resembles psalm 69.  Check it out.]
I saw this today as I was preparing to direct my thoughts for the impending travel to Europe on the same day when this is going to be proposed by Our Holy Mother the Church for our edification. This is a powerful passage for many reasons, not the least of which is that it describes me so well.  How many times have I said that I would hold back.  I would not stand for the set backs in His Name any more.  I was going to be a Pew Sitter, mind my own business, shut up, make the sign of the Cross, sit there and listen and go home and watch football, or some such inanity.  Ha! Never happens.
I remember when I changed career and life-style [nothing to do with rainbows] I told a dear uncle of mine that I was tired of "working with people."  I was going to get a $10.00 an hour job, sit there and shut up.  Put my time in and leave.  Play pool three nights per week.  He looked at me and said, "Stercus Taurorum, you will never be unable to live like that.  Get used to it."  He was right.  He was doubly right when it came to Faith, Doctrine and Religion.  There is no way that I can camp out in a pew.  Like Jeremiah, and like Paul, by the way, I can't shut up.  I have to let God through.  
Is this pretentious?  I don't think so.  As the liturgy of the day implores, "My soul is thirsting for you Lord." (Psalm 63)  When we thirst, we say so.  When we thirst, we don't just sit there, we speak up.  It doesn't take much.  A glass of water is all it takes.  That is not pretentious, it is the voice of Mother Nature being communicated.  When we talk about God, it is not we talking, it is God Himself speaking through us.  No matter what it is.  It can be as simple as "Please remember me and my family in your prayers."  Just like asking for a glass of water.  At the same time it is a confession of faith.  We have just told the hearer that the action of God through us cannot be stifled.  Is that pretentious?  Of course not.  Am I out of school in this?  No.  Examples?  Plenty.  
How many efforts do we make every day to stay neutral?  "I hope all will go well."
"I'm confident that we'll be fine."  "You know, the doctors today can do miracles."  You got the picture.  Jeremiah is telling us that the fire of God's love in him cannot be stifled.  His prayer is that God fooled him into thinking that life would be easy.  He blames God for making his life "impossible" because even though it is dangerous for him to prophesy, he can't help it.  

As it turns out, Jeremiah was actually in hot water.  His life was, in fact, in danger.  There was a time in his career that Jeremiah escaped to Egypt to save his life.  He came back anyway, and he continued to make life miserable for the very same people that he was harassing with God's word before his exile. The urge is too great.  And, he says, "God, it's all your fault.  You duped me. But, look at me, " becomes like fire burning in my heart,  imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it."  

No matter who we are.  No matter what our name is.  It could be Moses, Joshua, Deborah, Samuel, Nathan, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jonah, Amos, Ezekiel, John, Jesus, Steven, Peter, James or Paul, we cannot be simple pew sitters.  We cannot be spectators in the life of faith.  The fire of the Spirit is too hot.  We have to respond.  We cannot be neutral.  When we stand up in front of the altar, walk down the aisle and confess our belief that this is His Mission and My Mission, we are signing up for the job.  We might think, like Jonah, that we can neutralize ourselves in the hold of the boat going in the opposite direction.  No way.  God's whale has a way of swallowing us and coughing us up onto the beach in front of those who need us the most.  So, we have to stay ready.  When we walk up to the altar  to join in the Presence at the table of the Divine Sacrifice we have to know that we are accepting  the mission.  We have to know that God is going to preach through us, whether we like it or not.  Just like Jeremiah.  We often have the temptation to think, "Hey, I didn't sign up for this."  Think again, little brothers and sisters, we sure did.  We will never be able to put out the fire in our hearts.  God will always keep it stoked and we will have to speak God's truth by word or by act, do not doubt it.  Like it is written in Isaiah, chapter six, ..."the Seraphim laid a hot coal on my lips..."  

I therefore leave you all with these final words.  The Sacred Scriptures are full of stories about humans who carry the Truth to the world because they carry the Flame of the Spirit of God in their hearts.    We who are brave enough to listen to the written, spoken and lived Word are among those Priests, Prophets and Kings who do God's work every day.  That is not pretentious, that is God's Mission at work in us.  When we have lived a life full of this mission, then we will be ready for the moment when God reaches out His Hand for us to take us with Him to the Everlastingly lush Garden of Heaven.  When that happens to me, be sure that I will not be expecting any of you to cry at my funeral.


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