17th Week, Saturday, Aug 1

Jeremiah 26:11-16, 24 / Matthew 14:1-12

God speaks through Jeremiah: "Reform your ways!"

The Dallas Morning News carried a story about an Olympic hopeful. It began: "Jeff Kostoffs list of achievements fills an entire page in the Stanford swimming guide, but missing among the . . . U.S. distance records, NCAA titles and medal performances, is mention of . . . his best friend from high school.
" 'He was a swimmer, too, but he wasn't that talented,' said Kostoff. 'He realized the talent I had, and convinced me to stop screwing around and concentrate on swimming.' " Jeremiah tried to provide a similar function for God's people. Recall a time when we challenged someone about squandering God's gifts to them. Did anyone ever help us by challenging us on this point? "Our chief want in life is someone who shall make us do what we can." Ralph Waldo Emerson
At times we wonder if being good and doing good is really worth it. Because very often, we see, and even experienced, that good is being re-paid with evil. John the Baptist just wanted Herod to repent and live a good life. Because what Herod did was leading towards self-destruction. John the Baptist had compassion for Herod.

In fact, Herod knew it, and that was why he was distressed when he had to give the orders for John's execution. But goodness cannot be silenced or put to death. Because in the person of Jesus, Herod was once again reminded of the goodness of John the Baptist. When we live out the Christian values of love, patience, gentleness, humility, etc., and we get slapped in the face, we may wonder if it is worth it.

But let us remember that all good comes from God. When we do good, the benefactors are not just the others. We ourselves begin to realize our Christian identity and see the power of goodness and the power of God's love happening in the lives of others.
Friday July 31

Friday of 17th Week in Ordinary Time


Today the prophet Jeremiah warns the people that their trust in the temple as God’s presence among them is of no value unless they make God present in their lives by living their religion, and the temple will be destroyed as once the Philistines destroyed the sanctuary of Shiloh. The priests and the people threaten to kill Jeremiah.
Jesus is not welcome either among his people, in his town, his home country, for he is disturbing people’s consciences. He confronts them with the challenging reality of God and his ways. Christ shakes his people from their security in laws and outward practices. How dare he, one from their own town and street? Who does he think he is? Dare we to be the prophet’s voice needed today? Dare we to be unconventional?

Opening Prayer
Lord our God,
we are but timid people,
and yet you expect of us
to speak the word of your Son
by the witnessing of our lives.
We pray you for the courage
to live the kind of life
that your Son lived
and to follow him wherever he leads us
without the luggage of our securities.
Grant us this conviction
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Both Jesus and Jeremiah were prophets who were not honored in their own country. Although the people were amazed at Jesus’ learning and insight, he was such a “local boy” that he could not be taken seriously. Jeremiah’s message was so threatening with reference to the temple and the city that it seemed sacrilegious and out of place. The best solution was to be rid of the prophet.
In many ways we are not much different. We settle into a particular way of thinking and make what we hear conform to that. We see acts of violence perpetrated against innocent people. When we wage a war we see only one side and fail to see the hurt that may be present in the opposition. We sometimes exploit the natural resources of poorer countries and then fail to understand their resentment.
Let us try to have an open and understanding spirit. The law of averages tells us that there are times when we will be right and times when we will be wrong. At least we want to try to comprehend what others are saying. It is surprising to see how much we can change and learn from others.

Points to Ponder
Opposition to Jeremiah
Jesus as the “local boy”
A willingness to learn and to change


– That the Spirit of Christ may inspire our leaders of the Church with prophetic zeal to lead our people to true Christian freedom, we pray:
– That there may be prophets also among us today, however annoying we may find them, to remind us of what God expects of us, we pray:
– That the world of today may not turn a deaf ear to the voices of prophets who plead for peace and justice for all, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
we want this bread and wine to signify
that as we share your Son’s table
we also accept to be with him
signs of contradiction.
Let him change us
from weak and faint-hearted people
into people with the courage
to live as we believe
and to speak out boldly
for all that is right and good,
as Jesus did, your Son,
who lives with you and with us for ever.

Prayer after Communion
Lord our God,
your Son Jesus has spoken among us
prophetic words and deeds
of courage and self-giving.
Make us bold enough
to go with him his way to people,
even if the best of our Intercessions
are misunderstood.
We say so in fear and trembling,
but we want to be humble disciples
of Jesus Christ our Lord.

We should learn to listen to prophets, people who have something to say that is perhaps not pleasing but to the point. And we too should have the courage to speak up when needed, especially when we see injustice done to people. May almighty God give you this courage and bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.