In a second installment from the Prophet Joel, taken from the second part of this book, we hear Joel’s oracle about the future of Israel. You might recall that yesterday, Joel issued a warning based upon the drought and the infestation of locusts that had brought Israel’s harvest to ruin. However, Joel now proclaims that despite their rejection of God, there will come a day of judgment in which Jerusalem is restored while those who have done evil will know the violence of their own choice coming to visit them. God is the Lord of Justice, and one day all will be set right and will be revealed.
We also hear the Prophet Joel every Ash Wednesday. Today’s reading brings our examination of the prophets to an end for this liturgical year. The Lectionary for Weekday Mass has been constructed in such a way that as the year moves slowly to its close, we are called to look and to see if this year has been the Year of the Lord.
While Jesus is speaking the Word of God, the truth, a woman cries out in blessing for the woman who gave him birth and nursed him as a child. Jesus refuses to allow that blessing to stand. He says, rather, that the blessing should fall on the one who hears the word of God and keeps it. This is more important than the relationship of human kinship, marriage, family, and parents. We are given birth in the Word of God, and we must make sure that this Word grows within us.
Both Joel and Jesus bid us to search our hearts and to make sure that there is a place for God’s Word therein. Each day we are privileged to hear God’s Word. The Church teaches us that the Word is another form of the presence of Jesus in our midst. With gratitude for the abiding presence of God within the Church, we approach the altar to affirm our choice to remain as one who hears and keeps God’s Word.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator