Useful Lives Spent Serving God

Homily for Friday of the 16th Week in Ordinary Time

Because of yesterday’s feast day readings, we missed the opening chapter of the Prophet Jeremiah in which God calls him to be a prophet. In that reading, we would have heard God tell Jeremiah: “Today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to uproot and to tear down, to destroy and to demolish, to build and to plant.”

Today we hear the message that God wants Jeremiah to proclaim. Perhaps the most powerful image we hear in this reading appears in the last verse: “They have dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that hold no water.” I am not sure that I could come up with a more potent image of uselessness than that of a broken cistern. A cistern was used to store water so that these desert people would be able to slake their thirst. When I was privileged to tour the Holy Land, the first thing the guide told us as we climbed aboard our bus was to make sure that we always had a bottle of water with us. The luggage area of the bus contained cases of bottled water which were handed out at every stop we made.

The Gospel also uses an image of uselessness. The people look at Jesus but do not recognize him. They hear Jesus, but they do not heed his message. Their eyes and ears are useless. They cannot recognize Jesus or heed his message because their hearts are preoccupied with meaningless things rather than being focused on God and God’s Word.

Upon what are our eyes and ears focused. Jesus calls us “blessed” because we see Him and hear the Good News. This “blessing” is a two-edged sword because it comes with a warning. Much will be expected of those who have much. God expects us to bear good fruit. Disciples of Jesus know that their treasure is with the Lord and that the only way to gain eternal life is by losing our lives in the service of God’s will. The Eucharist in which we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus brings this message home each and every day. Jesus gave his life for us. Now we must spend our lives for Him.

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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