Monday in the 18th Week of Ordinary Time (II)
A Bitter Pill
A Bitter Pill
Readings: Jeremiah 28:1-17; Psalm 119:29, 43, 79, 80, 95, 102; Matthew 14:13-21
As Christians, we are all called to be prophets each in our own unique way. And to be a prophet is to bring the Good News of God’s word to God’s people. To be a prophet is to do what Jesus does in the gospel: to feed people with that which alone can give them sustenance. Humanity does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. There is gratification in feeding people this way. Especially when we can see very clearly that they are enjoying the food that we bring.
But God’s word does not always present itself as a delicious meal. As the Chinese saying goes: good medicine is bitter to the taste. Likewise, feeding on God’s word can sometimes be a less than pleasant experience. The one who serves at this table cannot be too attached to gratification. For diners are not likely to thank those who feed them with such fare – spiritually nutritious though it may be.
Is this not why it is easy for us to identify with Hananiah in the first reading? Do we not also wish that we had only consolation to offer? And yet in trying to grasp at the gratification that comes from keeping people happy, Hananiah forsakes his own prophetic call. He ends up speaking his own word instead of God’s. It is Jeremiah who instead remains faithful. He continues to speak God’s word even when it is hard to hear. And Jeremiah’s experience is also not foreign to us. Do not good parents do the same with their children?
As we meditate more deeply on God’s word to us today, how are we being called to be faithful to our prophetic calling – in our families, in our church, in our world – even when it seems that all we have to offer is a bitter pill to swallow?