Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” But you, gird up your loins; stand up and tell them everything that I command you.
Do not break down before them, or I will break you before them. And I for my part have made you today a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall, against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and the people of the land. They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
The readings these early Sundays of Ordinary Time are designed to establish Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of all the prophets had spoken, as the living embodiment of all that God hopes for in creating us and giving us so much promise and possibility. To allow ourselves to be stymied, shackled, hobbled by our inadequacies is to prevent God’s word and work from being proclaimed and lived. The truth is that we really need to go forward in life with holy boldness as prophets and witnesses of faith.
So how can this happen? Jeremiah speaks to us today: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I consecrated you . . . Tell the people everything I command you.” As if this isn’t enough, we encounter one of the most striking passages in the entire Bible through Paul’s words to the people of Corinth: “Love is patient and kind; love is not envious nor arrogant nor boastful. Love rejoices always in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
What if we take Paul’s words out of the abstract and think of them in terms of people we know and love: For example, Cheryl is patient and kind; Charlie is not envious or arrogant or boastful. Sally does not rejoice in doubt or wrongdoing. Jose rejoices in the truth. My mom bears all things; my best friend believes all things and endures all things. Carmen’s love—like the love of Jesus—is faithful and never ends.
The mystery we face today is bound up in the truth that the love of Jesus absorbs and transforms all the fears and inadequacies of our hearts. Our privilege is to release that love in very practical ways through our attitudes and actions this coming week. May we live and love with that holy boldness to which we are all invited in baptism.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
Lord, deepen our desire and our confidence to go forward as your servant. Release us from feelings of inadequacy that prevent us from living for you with bold vision and determination. And as we travel through the morning, afternoon, and evening of our day, place on our hearts the finger print of your tender love: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
—The Jesuit Prayer Team