20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10
Psalm 40:2, 3, 4, 18 (4)
August 14, 2022
Jeremiah served as a prophet of the Lord. How were the prophecies he delivered received? Today we hear the princes say, “Jeremiah ought to be put to death.” Why? Did he say something wrong?
They say, “he is demoralizing the soldiers who are left in this city and all the people by speaking such things to them.” What had he told them?
Jeremiah has delivered many prophecies from the Lord that were not popular. In this case, he had just told them to surrender to Babylon as the Lord’s Will. Obviously, this would not have been inspiring to the soldiers. Even the people are discouraged as they want Israel to be a great kingdom of its own.
They think he “is not interested in the welfare” of the people. In telling them to surrender, they think that he wants their “ruin.”
He does not. He is very much interested in their welfare.
He knows that their success lies in doing the Lord’s Will. He seeks to deliver the message of what the Lord’s will is so that they may do it.
We can face the same struggle today. When we try to guide people to know the Lord’s will, it is often not well-received. Why? Because it is not what the people want for themselves.
Just as the princes sought to silence Jeremiah by throwing him into the cistern, people today want to silence us when we try to speak God’s Truth.
What are we to do?
We are to “persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.”
The devil wants to pull us away from Jesus. The devil distracts us with earthly pleasures. The devil points us to things that bring us immediate pleasure but they do not bring us lasting joy. To have the lasting joy that we are created for, we need to keep “our eyes fixed on Jesus.”
It is not easy. We would like it to be easy but “easy” is often not what God calls us to. Jesus himself tells us, “I have come to set the earth on fire.” It is not enough to say we have faith. We are called to fully live the faith. In Revelation 3:16, we read, “So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
There were those who did not accept what Jesus said. He did not fight with them but neither did He back down from them and become silent. Jesus did not become silent to “keep the peace.”
Jesus knew his message would bring division. Division is not the goal. The goal is to know Jesus and to have a deep relationship with him. The problem comes when not everyone accepts the Lord’s teaching.
Should we be silent to keep the peace?
We need to ask what “peace” is. We are talking about peace in two different ways. There is earthly peace where everyone gets along. There would be no wars or fighting. We certainly desire this but real peace is more than just not fighting. Externally, earthly peace looks good but what about on the inside? Are we agreeing or are we biting our tongues?
This leads to the second type of peace, the peace that Jesus offers when He says, “Peace be with you.” It is a peace that is found in our heart and soul when we accept what God teaches and strive to follow it. It is a peace that transcends earthly quarrels and disagreements.
Which peace do you seek?
The devil wants us to seek the earthly peace where it seems everyone is getting along. The devil knows that this can keep us from knowing the true peace that Jesus offers. We become complacent in our faith. We might only be lukewarm at best. God doesn’t want us to be lukewarm. Jesus came to “set the earth on fire.”
Jesus did not start fights with other people. If they did not accept what He said, He moved on. We are not to fight others but we are to remain committed to our faith. Why is this important? If we become silent to keep earthly peace, others may think that we don’t really believe it ourselves.
It is not easy. We face “opposition from sinners.” Jesus faced opposition but “for the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross.”
Jesus endured the Cross because He knew that it would open the joy of the eternal kingdom to us. May we accept the sufferings before us to bring others as well as ourselves to eternal joy with God.
God guides us in his Word we hear read at Mass. We are strengthened in the Eucharist.
I’ll conclude by noting that if everyone accepts the peace of Christ and lives in accord with God’s way, we will have both the peace of Christ and earthly peace.