Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Wednesday in the 17th Week of Ordinary Time (II)
The Heartfelt Cry and the Divine Reply

Memorial of Blessed Peter Faber, S.J.
Readings: Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21; Psalm 59:2-3, 4, 10-11, 17, 18; Matthew 13:44-46

There is a question that, at one time or another, probably crosses the mind of everyone who prays: Has my prayer been heard? Or: When will God answer my prayer? Today’s readings help us to reflect on the kind of prayer that actually receives a favorable reply. In particular we are invited to observe how Jeremiah prays and how God answers him.

We notice, first of all, the honesty and directness of Jeremiah’s prayer. There’s no beating around the bush or false diplomacy. Jeremiah says whatever is in his heart. He has faithfully carried out God’s mission for him, but has received only persecution in return. He cries to God for help. Notice how direct he is: Your anger is very slow… I suffer insult for your sake… Why is my suffering continual…? Do you mean to be for me a deceptive stream with inconstant waters?

And God does indeed give Jeremiah a reply – a word that contains a lesson. God tells Jeremiah what he needs to do to experience God’s salvation: If you come back… If you utter noble, not despicable thoughts… Even as Jeremiah complains about the cost of his divine calling, God invites him to an even deeper fidelity, promising that in return, I mean to deliver you from the hands of the wicked and redeem you from the clutches of the violent. In effect, God is asking Jeremiah to be like the two people in the gospel parables of today. Having found something priceless, they sell everything they own in order to take possession of it. Similarly, God is asking Jeremiah to sell all – including his security, his good reputation, redress against his persecutors…

Is this not also the same sentiment expressed by the psalmist when he says that God is my stronghold, a refuge in the day of my distress? Strongholds and refuges are only effective if, forsaking other places, one actually enters them. One cannot be in two places at the same time.

Where do I find my treasure? In whom do I take refuge?

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
– Hebrews 5:7

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