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Scripture Reflections - August 18
20th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10
Hebrews 12:1-4
Luke 12:49-53

Archives Msgr Paul E. Whitmore
Msgr. Paul E. Whitmore

Did you ever have the experience of telling the truth to your parents or teachers and finding that they didn’t believe you. Maybe they even called you a liar. Maybe you were even punished for “telling fibs.” But you knew you had spoken the truth!

The prophet Jeremiah was the prophet many scholars say was the prophet most like Christ Himself. The hearts of prophets were on fire with the truth. Only the fire of love for the Father kept them courageous in their mission.

Those who resist God usually resist His messengers. In today’s first reading, the prophet Jeremiah is ridiculed, hated, thrown first into prison, then let down a deep cistern by those who wouldn’t listen to his message. They said it was “too demoralizing.” King Zedekiah admires Jeremiah, but he is too weak to act on his advice. Poor Jeremiah! He is battered and beaten just for telling the truth! As a result, God threatened complete destruction of the city by fire, and eventually, it happened!

In the Gospel, Jesus declares that His teachings will bring division and conflict, even within his followers’ own households. The fire of God’s love is meant to bring justice, but at what a price! Hearts hardened by greed and hate, or just indifference, are always intolerant of those who preach the power of God’s truth. They turn the fire of God’s love into the fire of a violence which will never bring peace. In the meantime, His prophets continue to face rejection and even martyrdom.

The second reading from Hebrews, urges the early Christians – and us – to look at the “cloud of witnesses,” the saints and heroes who have gone before us, for courage to remain loyal in the face of opposition. In other words, God urges us to “hang in there” till the hour of final judgment and reward for those who are loyal to the truth.

And please don’t forget to pray for your priests who are suffering immensely these days form the sexual abuse crisis. And, from the Holy Father on down to all the members of the Church, we all pray for the Church that it may recover from this terrible attack of Satan on the work of salvation that Christ demands of His mystical Body.

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