Reading 1 / Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10
In those days, the princes said to the king: “Jeremiah ought to be put to death; he is demoralizing the soldiers who are left in this city, and all the people, by speaking such things to them; he is not interested in the welfare of our people, but in their ruin.” King Zedekiah answered: “He is in your power”; for the king could do nothing with them. And so they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Prince Malchiah, which was in the quarters of the guard, letting him down with ropes. There was no water in the cistern, only mud, and Jeremiah sank into the mud.
Ebed-melech, a court official, went there from the palace and said to him: “My lord king,
these men have been at fault in all they have done to the prophet Jeremiah, casting him into the cistern. He will die of famine on the spot, for there is no more food in the city.” Then the king ordered Ebed-melech the Cushite to take three men along with him, and draw the prophet Jeremiah out of the cistern before he should die.
- So, following Christ means harm in this world. Almost all of the Old Testament Prophets are murdered; mostly by the Jews. Christ gets scourged. According to Jewish law (discipline of the synagogue) the number of stripes was forty less one (Deuteronomy 25:3) and the Rabbis reckoned 168 actions to be punished by scourging before the judges. Nevertheless, scourging among the Romans was a more severe form of punishment and there was no legal limit to the number of blows, as with the Jews. But, it’s been foretold, whether by Isaiah (53:5-6) or by Jesus Himself (John 15:20). At least Jesus’ warning gives us Hope, “If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you as well; if they kept My word, they will keep yours as well.” But, we are called to proclaim Him to everyone. Sometimes we’ll be welcomed with open arms and other times we’ll be exiled. Stand on Him regardless. Mother Teresa had the poem “Do It Anyway” on her wall; why can’t we focus on Him more and on “them” less? What do we lose by engaging with “them” beyond Him?
Responsorial Psalm / Psalms 40:2, 3, 4, 18
R. (14b) Lord, come to my aid!
I have waited, waited for the LORD, and he stooped toward me. R.
The LORD heard my cry. He drew me out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud of the swamp; he set my feet upon a crag; he made firm my steps. R.
And he put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God. Many shall look on in awe
and trust in the LORD. R.
Though I am afflicted and poor, yet the LORD thinks of me. You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, hold not back! R.
- The Lord “acts”, he isn’t stagnate. He “moves” and does things on our behalf. But, why? We don’t deserve it. We fall short no matter how hard we try. But, it’s the trying that counts. Getting up and trying again and again is what matters. As a Good Father, God continues to act on behalf of His Children. Jesus acts on behalf of His Flock. They act, because we act. We try. While we never can reach the carrot, we keep reaching. And, Jesus never stops reaching for us. How does life get complicated when we forget that God is acting on our behalf? Why did Peter sink when he stepped out on the water after a few steps; really?
Reading 2 / Hebrews 12:1-4
Brothers and sisters: Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God. Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.
- “Well, Billy can do it.” We’ve all heard from Parents, Friends, and other people how “someone else can do it, so why can’t you?” Perhaps it was an older Brother. For me, it was my older Sister. Jen loved peas. She was like “Mikey“; she’d eat anything. I despised peas. Jen would finish her dinner and be off to her room smiling for some well-deserved play time, while I would sit for the next hour painfully swallowing each pea individually through a lot of sweat, tears, and whining. I was really dramatic, too. I used to eat them while chugging water like I was taking pills. Until my Mom took the water away and the death play went into full force. Oh, I eat peas now. I don’t mind them – and $2,000 in psychotherapy has finally paid off (kidding). If Jesus Christ could resist sin all the way through His death, then why can’t we? The difference is that He’s God and we’re not. We may be Saints, but every Saint falls short at points in their life. Some went to their deaths for the Cross, of course. But, their flesh and the world got the better of them at points – even when, like Peter, they swore that they would never do it. The Scripture up above is one that I keep on my Prayer list. I like the thought of persevering; a race; a prize (Jesus). Jesus gave us the example and it’s not gender-specific. It’s universal. As in 1 Corinthians 8:6, “for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.” We exist for God and we also exist through Christ. If the focus is “through” Christ’s example, then we will have Eternal Life “through” God. Jesus will be our Redeemer. Eating peas was nothing like what Job said and he had it a lot worse than I did. He said, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.” Job 19:25 Why don’t we focus enough on God and put our Trust in Him? When have we ever carried our Cross and followed Christ?
Alleluia / John 10:27
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
- We don’t always take advice. When we’re young, we often think our Parent’s advice is wrong; until we get older and start having our own Children. But, a Parent’s voice is inherently calming; soothing even. Watch this video of a newborn responding to her Father’s voice. Isn’t that what the Father does for us? Are we really listening for Him? Listen. Trust. Obey.
Gospel / Luke 12:49-53
Jesus said to his disciples: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
- Jesus came to turn the world upside down. God had had enough. He sent His only Son to intervene. When the Jews wouldn’t listen, He opened-up Heaven to the Gentiles. Jesus was saying it was enough; it was time to change. Like Wyatt Earp said in Dodge City, “It all ends now.” It hasn’t ended yet, but Jesus is coming and a double-barreled shotgun is the least of our worries. This is everything. I stopped wondering a long time ago about why Families divide. God brought division; he doesn’t want us to be lukewarm – he wants us to pick a side. You can’t be an Alabama and an Auburn fan; nor can you be a Yankees and a Red Sox fan. But, you must be a fan of something. You can’t believe in abortion and birth; you can’t believe in forgiveness and the death penalty; and you can’t believe in Jesus and another religion. These are all diametrically opposed to each other. Pick a side. What keeps us from picking a side? Why do we fear someone’s reaction to our Faith’s perspective more than Christ’s?
Reflection of the Week:
Here is a prayer that God helped me construct from various Scriptures; I try to pray it at least once each week. Bonus points if you can locate all of the Scriptures that this is pulled from in the Bible.
A Knight’s Prayer
I will be strong and courageous. I will not fear nor be discouraged, for the Lord my God will be with me wherever I go. He will not fail nor forsake me. God has not given me a spirit of fear, but He has given me a spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind. Goodness and mercy will follow me every day. I will dwell with Jesus forever for it is God’s good will to give me the Kingdom of Heaven. Lord, I know that it is the time. It is the hour for me to awake from sleep. For my salvation is nearer now than when I first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let me throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let me conduct myself properly as in the day. By the mercies of God, I present my body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, as my spiritual worship. Since I am surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, I will rid myself of every burden and sin that clings to me and persevere in running the race that lies before me while keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus, the Leader and Perfecter of Faith. I will not grow tired of doing good, for in due time, I shall reap the harvest, if I don’t give up. I choose life, that me and my descendants may live, loving the Lord our God, obeying His voice, and cleaving to Him; for that means life to me. I will trust in the Lord with all of my heart, and I will not rely on my own insight. In all of my ways I will acknowledge Him, and He will make straight my paths. I will not be wise in my own eyes; I will fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. When I lack wisdom, I will ask for it from God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given to me. For God has brought me into union with Christ Jesus, and God has made Christ to be my wisdom. I will humble myself in sight of the Lord and He will lift me up. God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. Have mercy upon me, O Lord; for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled. Whatever things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – I will meditate on these things. Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle. Lord, please make me a man who turns the world upside down. Amen.