Reading 1 Jer 20:7-9How 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, "...it 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.