When one is invited to a party there is the expectation of a good time to be had: good food, pleasant company, lively conversation, and the presence of the gracious host.
One’s response to the invitation is generally, “Of course, I’ll accept. It will be a joy to be there.”
What a feast we have in today’s readings and what a company of great people to greet, listen to, and be with.
Jeremiah is told he has been chosen before he was born to be a prophet, and the Lord who chose him would be with him in all his difficulties.
His generous and trusting response is heard in the refrain of the psalm;
“I will sing of your salvation.”
His task was exceedingly difficult, involving great suffering and courage, but this was his song:
It is you, O Lord, who are my hope, my trust, O Lord, since my youth.
Sadly, the people couldn’t catch the tune and the heartfelt melody.
There are many wonderful passages in the Letters of St Paul but today's statements on love from Chapter Thirteen of his First Letter to the Corinthians are out on their own: peerless in their simplicity, truth and beauty. They rank among the most sublime, yet they are so basic and true:
Love is always patient and kind,
sustains, believes, hopes,
endures until the end . . . .
It is as though he is stating the obvious.
There is no argument.
He is stating the simple, beautiful truth about love – something we all ache for!
What nourishment and guidance in those few words!
The gospel reading comes at the conclusion of Jesus’ Sabbath appearance in his own home synagogue of Nazareth.
The community gathered there were amazed at his gracious words and ask themselves in consternation and seeming disbelief, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”
And yet, therein lies their weakness, their future rejection of him: A prophet is not honoured among his own people.
We will soon be entering the Holy Season of Lent.
Today’s readings lay out for us in profile the challenge that awaits Jesus and us as we follow him on his prophetic way to Jerusalem.
The Alleluia verse proclaims, “The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives.”
He will be true to that claim, and at the end of his journey, he will simply reinforce that message with the words, “I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life.”
It really is a banquet we are invited to.
What nourishing conversations!
How could we possibly resist the invitation?
Let us find strength in
- the simple assurance of Jeremiah,“I will sing of your salvation!”
- the challenging directness of Paul's statements on love,and finally,
- in the clear assurance that Jesus knows who he is and what he is on about!