In today’s readings we are introduced to yet another of the lesser lights of the Hebrew Scriptures. Baruch has been identified as a scribe or assistant to the Prophet Jeremiah. The Book of Baruch is actually a collection of four separate compositions – two letters, a poem in praise of Wisdom, and a poem of consolation for the Babylonian captives. It is from the third of these compositions, the poem of consolation, that we read today.
Addressing the captives, Baruch tells them that though their sins have caused them to be reduced to slaves once again, they should not lose confidence in God’s mercy. If they admit their sins and turn away from them, they will have nothing to fear. God will once again bring them back to their homes in Israel. Addressing the neighbors of Israel, particularly those who have captured and enslaved the people, he warns them not to gloat in their triumph. They have been but instruments through whom God has awakened his people to their transgressions.
The Gospel reading contains the same message as Jesus reminds the returning disciples that they are instruments that God has used to proclaim the Word and to expel demons. The power they have displayed is not their own.
Jesus then turns to prayer in which he gives praise and gratitude where it rightfully belongs. God has accomplished great things through chosen instruments who have done God’s will.
Today we remember Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos, a German-born member of the Redemptorist Community who was ordained a priest in Baltimore and began to minister to German-speaking immigrants. Both the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart as well as the friars of Sacred Heart Province can claim a kinship to this man who was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II in the year 2000. As we keep this memorial, we are reminded today of the fact that we too have been privileged to be instruments of God’s Word.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator