Saturday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time
October 5, 2019
Today, in Mercy, we read from the Book of Baruch, a little book with a big punch. Baruch authored “scribal literature”, that which completed the message of another writer. Baruch was Jeremiah’s scribe, working to finish the edges of this most complex of the prophets.
Our reading today reflects this complexity. The Israelites have a history of intertwined faith and faithlessness. They also have current overwhelming sufferings. How does the prophet employ these two realities to impel hearts toward God?
Baruch characterizes God as angry and vengeful, punishing the people for their idolatry. It’s a model that works for Baruch’s time and purposes. But it’s not the God I know and love. So how can the passage speak to me?
The core of Baruch’s message is that things can be really bad sometimes in life, but that God is with us even in those times. Our turning to God in trust and patience will allow us to remain faithful and to deepen spiritually even in suffering. That fidelity brings joy and peace.
It’s hard to have that kind of faith. We want to manage our lives, and even manage God, in order to make sense of the chaos of life – to provide sensible, rectifiable reasons for suffering and evil.
We want to control demons like the early disciples did.
In our Gospel, these disciples return from their missionary trips all puffed up with their powers over evil. Jesus cautions them saying that’s not at all what it’s all about. Any miraculous power they have in a given moment is only a sign of a Greatness beyond them.
Instead, their names a written in Heaven by the long, unshakeable fidelity that comes with keeping their eyes on God; by giving themselves to the mysterious, sometimes hidden, presence of God in every reality; by allowing that Presence to transform them and their circumstances.
(Speaking of prophets, a beautiful poem, Advice to a Prophet, came across my email today thanks to Joe Riley at Panhala. The poem is fitting as we close this Season of Creation. I will include it in a second post in case you’d like to read it.)
Music: a little revival music today, New Name Written Down in Glory. Picture the disciples singing this after Jesus instructs them in today’s Gospel.