Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 72 (NAB Translation)
This week’s first reading from the prophet Jeremiah explores the prophet’s divine call. All prophets are called by God to fulfill His will and to speak by God’s authority. All prophets are given a mission by God and most feel unworthy of the office and assignments to which they have been called. However, God has created them for a very specific purpose as evidenced by the poetic words, “‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you.” The Church also uses this passage in the Catechism to defend all human life stating that “from the moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as have the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.” In a sense this passage is not just about Jeremiah, but about all of us who are created and formed by God with a unique calling and purpose for our lives. Our task is to seek to hear God’s voice to us and to live out the our lives according to His purpose for us. Jeremiah’s submission to God even to point of enduring hardship can be the model for us.
- (cf. 15ab) “I will sing of your salvation”
This week’s second reading from his first letter to the Corinthians is known as Paul’s “hymn to love.” It is possibly one of the most familiar passages of the Bible. Although this extraordinary passage is probably familiar to most of us, it’s content is so rich that it is worth re-reading and reflecting upon. Paul wrote this passage in response to the Corinthians who were seeking the many gifts of the Holy Spirit, but had lost sight of the purpose behind these gifts, having become competitive and contemptuous, seeking to out-do one another. Obviously, this behavior was not at all reflecting the “mind of Christ,” and completely missed the point. Paul writes to the Corinthians to correct their misunderstanding and defines love as God defines love. The attributes of true love, such as patience, kindness, bearing with others who mistreat us, etc. are attributes of God himself, which is why true holiness is rooted in true love. Despite the fact that “love” is a popular word, actually practicing true love as depicted in this passage is much harder as most of us can attest. But to fail to live this level of love, is to fail to effectively bear witness to the Gospel: for it is this type of love for which the early Christians were known and played such a pivotal role converting the pagans. This Year of Mercy should be a great opportunity to revisit these words and to practice the love which is the crown of all virtue.
In this passage from St. Luke’s Gospel Jesus comes home to preach in his hometown of Nazareth. Although his hearers are amazed at His teaching, they quickly turn on Him because they can’t see how someone from their own town, whose parents they knew, could really match the claims that Jesus made for Himself. When He reminds them of the Old Testament scriptures that show how God gave favor to outsiders when rejected by His own people, they become enraged and seek to throw Him off a cliff. But because His mission had not yet been fulfilled, Jesus miraculously vanishes in the crowd rather than be killed. Jesus came to bring good news, but almost as soon as He began preaching the darkness in hearts of men resisted the One who had been sent to save them. This resistance foreshadowed the Cross and represents the tendency toward rebellion is in all of us. How do we react when confronted with the holiness of others or when we are called to forego our own desires to seek holiness?