Friday, 1 August 2008

My Thoughts on Today's Bible Readings

Looking at what happened to Jeremiah in today's reading, I was struck by many people's gut reaction to the God of the Old Testament: "Oh why does that God always want to bring disaster on His chosen people?" etc. etc. The fact that the people of Israel kept leaving Him and disaster always brought them back to their true God wasn't given much thought. The people of Israel in Jeremiah's time must have thought the same. "Oh we have the Temple of the Lord; we are His chosen people- we can't be sinning that badly, and besides, He'll understand. After all, we are all that He has." Or something similar, since I'm just guessing here :) So when Jeremiah condemned them to a fate similar to that of heathens and non-believers, they condemned him in return. Instead of listening to him and repenting (a la Nineveh), they decided that he must be wrong, and their current lifestyle must be right in the Lord's eyes. After all, they are happy, right? And what makes them happy must be coming from their God, right?

Jesus didn't fare any better with the people of his hometown. They were of the mindset that a person chosen by God must be extraordinary, and a son of a lowly carpenter definitely isn't extraordinary. Never mind that He had been performing miracles throughout the country; it's what they think and feel that matters most. Are we the same sometimes? Don't we judge people not by who they are (something we can't truly know) but by our perception of who they are (which we stick to like glue)?

Let us not follow the examples of the above peoples. Let us be open to God and His word. Let us treat His word as what it is (His desires for us) and not some human thinking.

Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori ( bishop and Doctor of the Church)

Today we Catholics celebrate the memory of St Alphonsus Liguori, who (according to Wikipedia) was:
- born on September 27, 1696 in Marianella, Campania in the Kingdom of Naples.
- ordained a priest on 21 December 1726 at the age of 30
- founded the "Evening Chapels" which, ran by the homeless and marginalized youth of Naples, were centers of prayer, community, the Word of God, social activities and education.
- founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (a.k.a the "Redemptorists") on 9 November 1732 when a nun named Sister Maria Celeste Castarosa told him that it was revealed to her that he was the one God have chosen to create the Congregation.
- consecrated Bishop of the diocese of Sant'Agata dei Goti in 1762
- died on August 1, 1787
- canonized as a saint in 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI
His greatest contribution to the Church was in the area of moral theological reflection with his Moral Theology. Also was of great influence on Mariology during the Age of Enlightenment

Bible Readings for Today (Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori)

Jeremiah 26: 1-9
The Lord spoke to Jeremiah at the beginning of the reign of Josiah’s son, King Jehoiakim of Judah. The Lord said, “Go stand in the courtyard of the Lord’s temple. Speak out to all the people who are coming from the towns of Judah to worship in the Lord’s temple. Tell them everything I command you to tell them. Do not leave out a single word! Maybe they will pay attention and each of them will stop living the evil way they do. If they do that, then I will forgo destroying them as I had intended to do because of the wicked things they have been doing. Tell them that the Lord says, ‘You must obey me! You must live according to the way I have instructed you in my laws. You must pay attention to the exhortations of my servants the prophets. I have sent them to you over and over again. But you have not paid any attention to them. If you do not obey me,11 then I will do to this temple what I did to Shiloh. And I will make this city an example to be used in curses by people from all the nations on the earth.’”

The priests, the prophets, and all the people heard Jeremiah say these things in the Lord’s temple. Jeremiah had just barely finished saying all the Lord had commanded him to say to all the people. All at once some of the priests, the prophets, and the people grabbed him and shouted, “You deserve to die! How dare you claim the Lord’s authority to prophesy such things! How dare you claim his authority to prophesy that this temple will become like Shiloh and that this city will become an uninhabited ruin!” Then all the people crowded around Jeremiah in the house of the LORD.

Matthew 13: 54-58
Then Jesus came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and miraculous powers? Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother named Mary? And aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? And aren’t all his sisters here with us? Where did he get all this?” And so they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own house.” And he did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.

Daily Bible Verse

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