Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest
July 31, 2020
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 69, a heart-felt lament whose verses are often paralleled with the sufferings of Jesus.
I have become an outcast to my brothers,Psalm 69: 9
a stranger to my mother’s sons,
Because zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.
Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written,Roman 15: 3
“The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me”.
Praying with Psalm 69 this morning, and in the light of both our first reading and Gospel, I am aware of how God’s prophets suffer to proclaim mercy, justice, and truth.
Jeremiah suffered in the hope and conviction that God imagined a future of justice for all God’s people. He stood in the midst of the Temple worshippers and condemned their pretense of righteousness.
Jesus stood at the center of his hometown synagogue to proclaim that the long hoped-for redemption had come. But like Jeremiah’s listeners, Jesus’s neighbors also turned on him.
In our own lifetimes, we see the persecution and hatred which is leveled at modern prophets who call the world to justice and mercy. Even within our own Church, we see how Pope Francis is vilified by those whose privileged excesses are threatened by his charity.
As I write this reflection, our country celebrates the life of one of its noblest prophets, the sainted John Lewis. In the image of all the great Justice Witnesses, John endured incredible suffering for the sake of people’s dignity and freedom. He was able to do so because, like Jeremiah and Jesus, he didn’t look inward at his wounds. He looked outward for the redemption of others … the prize of justice:
Never give up, never give in, never give out.John Lewis
Keep the faith, and keep your eyes on the prize.
Together, we can redeem the soul of America.
Let us pray today that the voices of true prophets may be heard and heeded. In this age when technology and social media can quickly disseminate vitriol, hatred, and conspiracy, let us pray for discerning hearts and courageous wills.
But I pray to you, O LORD,Psalm 69; 14
for the time of your favor, O God!
In your great kindness answer me
with your constant help.
Poetry: Prophet by Carl Dennis
Prophet You'll never be much of a prophet if, when the call comes To preach to Nineveh, you flee on the ship for Tarshish That Jonah fled on, afraid like him of the people's outrage Were they to hear the edict that in thirty days Their city in all its glory will be overthrown. The sea storm that harried Jonah won't harry you. No big fish will be waiting to swallow you whole And keep you down in the dark till your mood Shifts from fear to thankfulness and you want to serve. No. You'll land safe at Tarshish and learn the language And get a job in a countinghouse by the harbor And marry and raise a family you can be proud of In a neighborhood not too rowdy for comfort. If you're going to be a prophet, you must listen the first time. Setting off at sunrise, you can't be disheartened If you arrive at Nineveh long past midnight, On foot, your donkey having run off with your baggage. You'll have to settle for a room in the cheapest hotel And toss all night on the lice-ridden mattress That Jonah is spared. In the space of three sentences He jumps from his donkey, speaks out, and is heeded, while you, Preaching next day in the rain on a noisy corner, Are likely to be ignored, outshouted by old-clothes dealers And fishwives, mocked by schoolboys for your accent. And then it's a week in jail for disturbing the peace. There you'll have time, as you sit in a dungeon Darker than a whale's belly, to ask if the trip Is a big mistake, the heavenly voice mere mood, The mission a fancy. Jonah's biggest complaint Is that God, when the people repent and ask forgiveness, Is glad to forgive them and cancels the doomsday Specified in the prophecy, leaving his prophet To look like a fool. So God takes time to explain How it's wrong to want a city like this one to burn, How a prophet's supposed to redeem the future, Not predict it. But you'll be left with the question Why your city's been spared when nobody's different, Nobody in the soup kitchen you open, Though one or two of the hungriest May be grateful enough for the soup to listen When you talk about turning their lives around. It will be hard to believe these are the saving remnant Kin to the ten just men that would have sufficed To save Gomorrah if Abraham could have found them. You'll have to tell them frankly you can't explain Why Nineveh is still standing though you hope to learn At the feet of a prophet who for all you know May be turning his donkey toward Nineveh even now. [from Practical Gods (2001)
Music: Lord, in Your Great Love – Orchard Enterprises