16th Week, Thursday, Jul 23

Jeremiah 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13 / Matthew 13:10-17
My people have sinned: “They have forsaken me, their living water.”

Alexander Solzhenitsyn is a Russian novelist. He fled his native land and later received the Nobel prize for literature. Writing in National Review magazine, he describes several boyhood memories. One involves being taunted by his playmates as he accompanied his mother to the one remaining church in his town. Another involves someone tearing away the cross that he wore around his neck. A final one involves old people saying of the tragedies befalling Russia, “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”
Solzhenitsyn says what happened to Russia in his youth has now happened to the world. We have “lost touch with our Creator.”
How closely in touch with God are we, right now in our lives?
“If God loved us as much as we love him, where would we all be?” Anonymous
In life, we are always curious, as well as amazed by mystery. There is always something that we don't quite understand. Even ordinary things that we take for granted like gravity and friction have something to tell us but we don't usually look deeper at it and hence we just pass it by. Yet when we lose the sense of mystery in religion and our faith becomes de-mystified through rationalism and familiarism, then God would become just a concept.

In the 1st reading, we hear the prophet Jeremiah lamenting of such attitude when he said: "The priests have never asked, "Where is the Lord?". Those who administer the Law have no knowledge of the Lord. The shepherds have rebelled against the Lord; the prophets have prophesied in the name of Baal, following things with no power in them. Yes, God had become just a thing that existed only in the minds of the people but not a reality in their hearts.

As Jesus would quote the prophet Isaiah in the gospel: For the heart of this nation has grown coarse, their ears are dull of hearing, and they have shut their eyes. When we lose the sense of mystery, then we also lose touch with the spiritual aspect of our lives. Our hearts would also grow coarse and our lives are like leaky cisterns that hold no water.

Hence prayer is fundamental and essential in our lives. Prayer softens our hearts and makes us sensitive to the mystery of the presence of God around us and also in us. God has revealed Himself to us in the Bible. Yet God continues to reveal Himself to each of us in a personal way. May our prayer lead us to a deeper encounter of the mystery of God in our lives.
Thursday July 23

Thursday of 16th Week in Ordinary Time


Jeremiah reminds God’s people that in their youth, after God had made a covenant with them, they had been faithful and fervent. But since then they have abandoned God, even the priests and the prophets had done so.
Jesus complains that there are some who close their hearts to his message of life. His message is simple. Much of it is told in the moving stories of the parables. Why don’t people understand them? They are fickle and busy with themselves and their own little affairs. Or they think they are too learned and too self-sufficient, above the little ones, the humble, the simple people; these are eager to be receptive of the word of God and to pay attention to it.

Opening Prayer
God, you care for us.
your Son Jesus told us this in wonderful stories
about your forgiveness, your love, and your patient mercy.
Do not allow us to be so fickle or indifferent
that we close our eyes and ears to them,
but make us see and hear with our hearts
that these simple stories are speaking
of the very meaning of our lives.
Count us among the simple people
who understand what you are telling us
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

A person is naturally grieved when a beloved decides to terminate a relationship, but the pain is even greater when that partner leaves for another person. Such was the case with the fickle Israel. Jeremiah today speaks of their earlier relationship in idyllic tenns; she was like a bride, following him in the desert, the first fruits of the harvest, led by him into the garden land. But what has transpired? The priests do not seek him, the shepherds have rebelled, the prophets prophesy by Baal. Promise has turned to tragedy.
Jesus’ hearers, children of Israel, make no attempt to understand his message. His parables, which are intended to illustrate the truth, become obstacles to understanding. It is one thing never to have known the true God, but it is sadder indeed to have known him and rejected him.
The prayer for final perseverance is a worthy one indeed. Our hearts can become cold; we may become beguiled by other attractions or even tempted to despair. But alertness is always a good medicine. Sursum corda says the Latin. “Lift up your hearts!” We may waver, but he is forever faithful.

Points to Ponder
Cherishing the faith
Abandoning the truth
Praying for perseverance

– For those who are not moved by the word of God, that the Church may hear their silent yearning and speak the word in such a way that makes them see that it pertains to their life and happiness today, we pray:
– For those who remain deaf to the word of God, that they may be moved when they see it flowering and bearing fruit in the life of good Christians, we pray:
– For the sick, the lonely, those who suffer or mourn, that the word of God may bring them consolation, give them the courage to bear their pain and to keep hoping in a loving God, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
we are ready to listen to the secrets
of the kingdom of heaven.
We bring before you
these simple offerings of bread and wine.
Let them express that we want
to be open to these secrets with unsophisticated hearts,
for you reveal yourself
to those who listen with their hearts.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Prayer after Communion
Lord our God,
make us attentive to the words
Jesus has spoken to us at his table
and keep stirring in us the love he has shown us.
Let our faith be more
than formulas that do not change life.
Make the story of our life speak to those around us
that we have understood how much you care
and respond to you with all that is in us,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

“Blessed are your eyes for they see and your ears for they hear.” Listen to the Lord with your hearts, with the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.