July 31, 2020 (Friday of Week 17 Year II: St Ignatius of Loyola)
Dear friends in Christ, today we celebrate the memorial of St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus—Jesuits. He began life as a soldier. On one of his battles, he was wounded, and during recuperation, asked for books to read to kill the boredom. He was given ‘the Life of Christ’ and ‘Lives of the saints.’ Reading these books led to his conversion as he thought, “What if I were to do what they did?” He then decided to work for the kingdom of God. He gathered a group of companions who later became the first Jesuits. His work, ‘The Spiritual Exercises’ remains a great influence in the Church. We can like him ask ourselves the same question.
Our first reading today (Jeremiah 26:1-9) reveals how God sent Jeremiah to deliver his message at the door of the temple and was warned not to omit any syllable. After delivering the message, Jeremiah got into trouble with the temple authorities. The prophet was accused of treason. The message had been delivered, who will save him now from the wrath of the crowd that felt offended by the message. Jeremiah felt abandoned into the hands of his enemies. His prophetic life was not an easy one, yet he lived up to what God wants of him. In spite of the challenges you may face, while doing what is right, your best bet is to remain close to God and committed to your mission, because your endurance will win you your life.
In the gospel (Matthew 13:54-58) the growing opposition to the ministry of Jesus took a new dimension even in his own place. The parables were already in the context of this opposition. The people loved to listen to Jesus, they loved the miracles that he worked, but they were not willing to change their lives and their ways. He came to the synagogue in his own place and after he had spoken, a feeling of bewilderment came upon them, they soon began to question everything about him and his ministry. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son?…Where then did he get all of this? And they took offence at him.” Their words and actions showed a rejection of his person and his message. What sort of prejudice leads you to close your eyes and minds to the good in others? They couldn’t get beyond what they knew of him in the neighbourhood. His mission to save the world didn’t appeal to them. Matthew tells us that, “He did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.”
Have you been rejected before by those you expect to welcome you and understand your situation? This might be in your time of need, but sometimes it might even be that you were trying to offer help, or have even done so only to receive enmity and malice in return for your good gestures. “A prophet is not without honour except in his own country…” Do not give up on what you have to do. When people misunderstand your good deeds, that is the more reason to keep doing so, or they might conclude you were pretending even in the first place.
Let us pray: Lord your presence makes all things right and brings back to life what to others is dead, restore me to life and give me your peace. Amen. May the Almighty God bless you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.