Jeremiah shares the image of the potter and the clay to illustrate our relationship with the Lord.
Tag Archives: Jeremiah
The Letter to the Hebrews describes our life as a great race before a cloud of witnesses. Life is difficult, yet with God’s grace and the help of people, angels and saints we can face our struggles with the conviction that we will cross the finish line into Heaven.
Study: Recall a time when you had to speak up in a difficult situation. How did you face it? What gave you strength to do it?
Pray: Ask the Lord for the grace to respond to challenging circumstances with love. Call upon the Holy Spirit for the gifts you need.
Serve: How can you support someone who is faced with a tough task right now? How can you help them?
Let’s start with a quick recap of the readings this week:
- 1st Reading: Jeremiah will be strengthened to preach a difficult message
- Psalm: We proclaim God’s goodness, especially when life is tough
- 2nd Reading: The Love of God shapes and directs our lives
- Gospel: Jesus encounters opposition at Nazareth
The first reading, psalm, and Gospel all refer to moments that challenge us. The prophets encountered it, the Psalmist sings about it, and the Lord himself met resistance and opposition to the message he proclaimed. But note this: in spite of the difficulty they did it.
Sometimes saying what needs to be said is unpleasant and unwelcome. We might want to avoid it or wish someone else could do it, but there are times in life when it’s up to us to deliver a tough message. We know what needs to be said…and that it’s up to us to speak.
The key is how we say it. How does our intention, our desire, and our tone convey a tough message? The answer is found in the second reading: Love. The love of Christ guides and directs every aspect of our lives – including those times when we are called to speak about a difficult topic.
This notion of “what” and “how” shows up repeatedly in the spiritual life:
- What refers to the issue, content, and “facts” of a situation or circumstance
- How refers to the manner in which it is conveyed – the way we do something
Our faith calls us to confront the reality of life, particularly when things are tough. We need not fear engaging a difficult situation; rather, we draw on the love of Christ to guide us – both in what we say and how we say it – trusting that the Lord will provide us with the grace we need.
Let’s face it: Life is tough! But when the going gets tough, the tough get going…guided by God’s love.
Note: This post was first published on January 26, 2016.
Both Jeremiah and Jesus acknowledge that they must experience suffering, and learning from them we recognize that suffering is part of our world. When we face suffering with the gift of faith, we grow strong in virtue as we strive to do the right thing, for the right reason, at the right time, in the right way.
Study: Recall a moment when you encountered personal suffering. How did your faith in Christ help you face it?
Pray: Many people are suffering right now in our world. Pray for those in need and join your heart with them to God.
Serve: Where is the suffering face of Christ in your life right now? How can you help another who is in need?
Some of the toughest questions I routinely encounter as a priest occur during sickness or untimely death. In the midst of great suffering and pain, a loved one comes up to me and asks, “Father, why did this have to happen? Why do they have to suffer? Why doesn’t God take the pain away?”
In the anguish of the moment no answer is adequate; the pain hurts too much, and seeing another suffering is often too hard to describe with words. Our hearts feel more than we can say, and the emotions overflow the limits of our soul.
We encounter suffering in many ways: at the graves of loved ones; in hospital and nursing home rooms; at the bedsides and wheel chairs of homebound; through news stories of tragedy; and in quiet moments all alone. Many of us are familiar with the grief and pain of suffering, and we are quick to recognize its presence in those around us.
In the Old Testament and Gospel readings today we encounter suffering. Both Jeremiah and Jesus raise two crucial points:
1. The pain is real.
2. The suffering is part of their witness.
First, neither Jeremiah nor Jesus deny that suffering is part of their lives. They do not hide from it, repress it, pretend it is not there, or run away out of fear. Their suffering is real; they acknowledge the truth of what they must face and confront it.
Second, the pain they face is part of their ministry. Simply put, they suffer because they have remained faithful to God. Jeremiah burns with the fire of a prophet; to remain silent would destroy him and deny God’s word. Jesus knows that only through his death and resurrection can he fulfill his Father’s will; to run away would deny God’s plan for salvation history.
From the example of Jeremiah and Jesus we discover that our suffering is part of a much larger picture. We know that suffering is an element of life, mixed with the joy and beauty we encounter daily. We know that it will come in difficult and sometimes unexpected ways.
Yet God is present in our suffering. Just as Jeremiah and Jesus knew that God was present with them, so too we can see that the Lord is near, giving us strength and hope. Thus suffering may be a way that we draw closer to God, mindful of our need.
Note: This blog was originally published on August 26, 2014.
As questions swirl about who is Jesus the threats against his life continue to grow. The uncertainty – is he a prophet or even the the Christ – causes divisions and doubts among the leaders. As we encounter uncertainty in our own lives we look to the Lord for wisdom, strength, and guidance.
Here’s a question: Would you be willing to die for your faith? Both Jeremiah and John the Baptist are put to the test, and we know that today people are killed for following Christ. May our lives reveal our love for the Lord…in both life and death.