Reading I: Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19; Responsorial Psalm: 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15-17; Reading II: 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13 or 13:4-13; Gospel: Luke 4:21-30
My dear friends in Christ, the first reading from the book of the Prophet Jeremiah, talks about the fear Jeremiah had to take up the prophet mission. This is because he had experience the hard hardheartedness of the people. He feared that they might not listen to him. God tells him that he had prepared him for that mission since he was in his mother’s womb. God would fight for him so that he may carry out his mission. The call of Jeremiah is a call of each one of us who have been baptized in Christ Jesus. Our primary call is to be human beings over and above all other creatures. The second call is to be the begotten children of God through baptism.
Every human being has been created through the love of God. It does not matter the circumstances in which each one of us was born because these depends on us as human being. What is important to understand is that we are all created by God. God in his power and wisdom could have created all of us without having to do it through our parents, but he decided to give power and authority to men and women to share in his work of creation.
This reading sheds light to one very important matter in the life of human beings. That God to live and that He has chosen all those conceived of a woman has a plan for their lives. It does not matter whether the parents had planned or not. This means that the parents are supposed to let these innocent persons to see the light of the day to accomplish their purpose on earth.
No one is born out of bad luck. God has made each of us for a certain purpose. This explains why we are all different from each other.
The Word of God is calling upon us to value and cherish the life of each person in every circumstance, whether young or old, sick or healthy, poor or rich, Christian or non-Christian.
In the eyes of God, all of us are equal. This need to be well understood and taught to all people that there is no reason for us to discriminate one another. What we have to discriminate is evil, hatred, war, negative competition and pride. These we must really discriminate.
No one chooses where to be born. It is good to recognize the grace of God and thank him especially for the gift of the freedom to worship.
Our vocation and faith in Jesus calls us to help one another like brothers and sisters of one father and heirs of the Kingdom of God with him.
We are called to love with the love of God. In our days, love has many faces different from the love of God.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul is painting for us the perfect picture of love. There are many things that we call love some of which if you come to think of them you will be surprised.
Many people have separated themselves from God and the Church in the name of love. The Church for them is a barrier to love. This is amazing. The Church is the embodiment of Christ whose main purpose it to proclaim and make felt to all the true love of God.
You will hear someone saying that this person loves me because he or she has taken her for lunch, bought an expensive cellphone, some nice clothes or given her some money. However, since all that began, they no longer go to Church, or receive the Eucharist.
This cannot be love. These are only things that are not supposed to be love. If you really want to test if they were love, wait until there are no more resources left. The pitiful things is that some realize that they were being taken for a ride when it is too late and are in very bad state.
Let us reflect closely what Paul is proposing as love and compare it with what we have been thinking it is.
True love surpasses all kind of wit and cleverness of the tongue. Many are cheated by sweet words and promises only to be left hurt spiritually, emotionally, physically and socially. They remain bankrupt in the name of love.
Paul says that true love is more than all prophesy. I have heard someone telling another that he has received a vision telling him that he is supposed marry her. This is “conmanship” in its most ridiculous level.
True love cannot be equated to material generosity. When someone gives gifts does not mean they love. Some promise impossible things like taking one to the moon and to the sun.
True love is more than many sacrifices. People are ready to do anything to get what they want. If you want to know if they loved, wait until they get what they wanted.
The Church and places of worship are supposed to be places where the love and forgiveness of God is proclaimed and embodied, and not places to ransack of the little livelihood people by declaring the wrath of God on them. God has given us the knowledge and freedom to choose good from evil. The choice is individual’s responsibility. When Jesus tells us to love even those who hate us, he want that through love to change their hearts.
There are people who pray for evil to before others including their own kin. Jesus taught us to forgive even when it most difficult to do so. “Forgive them for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34).
- Love is patient – in all circumstances. In bad times and good times. Love takes time to grow and mature. It does not jump at things. Today people will meet in cities and towns and within a month they are living together. After three months, they are expecting a child and before the child is born, they have gone separate ways.
- Love helps – he or she that truly loves will be ready to support the one they love to achieve their dreams and not discouraging them and possessing them to the point of denying them freedom of movement and interaction.
- Love is not jealous – you will hear someone telling how much he or she love but at the same time, they are opposed to the development of the other. Since she was love, she never continued with her studies or career.
- Love is not proud – it does not look down upon others. Love is always humble. It values the loved one more that self.
- Love is disciplined – some people say they love but they do not respect the ones they love. Domestic violence is not a sign of love or respect.
- Love does not seek self-benefits – there are many who pretend to love but with hidden agenda. Some are looking for a cook, laundry person and a tool for self-gratification.
- Love is not bitter – love always receives everything from the loved with calmness. It does not react with bitterness over anything. This is very important especially to married couples.
- Love does not count faults – many times, you will hear someone telling their partner that this is the last warning. Some carry in their heart the faults committed years ago and keep on bringing them every time there is an argument.
- Love does not rejoice over evil – love always seeks justice for all despite of the consequence to self. It does not thrive in injustice.
- Love does not reduce – this is interesting. If you ask many people who have been friends of even married for long time to remember how it was in the beginning, many will shed nostalgic tears because they lost it all long time ago. What they have is no longer love but persevering and tolerating one another because they have no otherwise. Unfortunately, there are many such cases in our society today.
I dare to say that there are many who live together as husband and wife but they have never tasted the fruits of true love because it was never love since the beginning.
Nevertheless, there is good news. That Jesus came into the world to repair all our brokenness in love. During the ordinary time in the Church’s liturgical year, we hear about the things that Jesus did and said to teach us God’s true love. He came to teach us to love like God.
Jesus came to end all hypocrisy. Last Sunday we heard Jesus presenting his manifesto: to preach good news to the poor, release to the prisons, sight to the blind and freedom to captives.
This brought a lot of joy to those who were oppressed but came as threat to the ears those who were perpetuating the oppression. They became so furious that they even attempted to kill him by throwing him over the cliff.
There are many followers of Jesus who are working hard to alleviate the suffering of many. During the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, we celebrate also the gift of religious people in the world. These are people who are not only followers of Jesus but who have also opted to give their lives to the service of people imitating Jesus himself. Just like Jesus himself, they face a lot of opposition and some even lose life in their mission.
The word of God pieces like a double-edged sword. It cuts this way and that (Heb 4:12). There is no way to prevent it. The word of God cannot be suppressed. It challenges us to change our ungodly ways. It is like the rain that does not go back before it makes germinate the plants (Is 55:10-11).
My dear brothers and sisters, we have received the grace to be heirs of the kingdom of God. Let us hold fast to it and give it a chance to change our life. If we do this, our lives will be meaningful on earth.
Let us love one another. Love is the only positive weapon against hatred. We cannot win wars with more wars.
God bless you.
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD