Friday, April 3 Reflection by Deacon Len

Friday, 5th week of Lent, Year A (4/03/20)

In both of today’s readings we hear the stories of terror, persecution and condemnation.  Jeremiah says, “All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine.”  For what is he being persecuted and trapped?  Simply put, he is being maligned for doing the work of the Lord.  

In the first chapter of Jeremiah we hear the story of how the Lord sent him as “a prophet to the nations.”  When Jeremiah rebutted, “I do not know how to speak”.  The Lord simply sent him saying, “To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak.

So, at this point, 19 chapters later, Jeremiah is being trapped and persecuted for where he has gone and what he has said.  Yes, people simply didn’t like what he said.  Even though the words he spoke were from the Lord, people didn’t like how that infringed on their way of life.  If they don’t have to hear it, they don’t have to worry about it.  If they don’t like what he says, find a reason to trap him and kill him.

In the Gospel we hear the same story.   “The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus.”  Imagine that.  All of the people he healed; the sight restored; the hungry fed; the deaf ears opened, yet they came to stone Him.  When he asked, I have shown you many good works from my Father.  For which of these are you trying to stone me?” Their reply:  “We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy.
You, a man, are making yourself God.”  

Once again, they didn’t like what HE said.  Why? Because similar to Jeremiah, the Jews who were well versed in “the law” didn’t like how Jesus’ teaching infringed on their way of life. 

There are two very significant lessons for us in these stories:  First, sometimes when we do what the Lord has asked us to do, we will be persecuted, trapped and socially condemned.  When we stand up for what we believe as Catholics and state as Jeremiah and Jesus did, the Truth, the society that doesn’t want to hear it will condemn us.  Why?  Because the Truth infringes on the way of life in popular culture.  

The second lesson, and this is important is that we should not be afraid when society and even our friends try to trap us and condemn us.  “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:8).  That is why in our text today Jeremiah says, “But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.”  Jeremiah has 52 chapters.  So his story doesn’t end here in chapter 20.

In the Gospel, you can hear the same resolve as Jesus says, “If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand
that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”  The Jews are unable to trap Jesus and stone Him, “He escaped from their power.”

This is the big lesson:  not only are we called to do what the Lord asks; go where He sends us; and say what He commands, knowing we will be initially shunned and persecuted, but we are to do it without fear. We are called to do it with faith.  We are called to have the faith of Jeremiah and Jesus as they faced their persecutors, knowing that Lord’s plan is better than anything our human minds can fathom.

Even in this difficult time of exile and removal from society, we are called to have faith that the Lord’s plan is better than anything we can imagine.  Now is a time that can test our faith, like Jeremiah and even Jesus was tested.  We don’t know the outcome of our current situation.  Neither did they.  What they did know is that the Lord said, “Be not afraid, for I am with you to deliver you.”

I continue to keep all of you in prayer and look forward to the day when we can celebrate together again at the table of the Lord.  Have faith in the Lord!

Good health, Blessings and Peace to you and your families,

Deacon Len