“You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped;
you were too strong for me, and you triumphed.”
30 Aug 2020
Brothers and Sisters,
May the Lord of hope and joy bless you and your families as we enter into a new academic year. In the midst of the unknown, let us continue to encourage each other, live out our faith, and be patient.
The prophet Jeremiah preached repentance and conversion in a time of great prosperity for Judah. He warned the people about their complacency and the growing powers of Babylon. In the modern understanding of success, Jeremiah was a failure in that his warnings were not heeded. The Babylonian Exile dispersed the people of God and the Temple of Solomon was destroyed. Jeremiah–warning the leaders and people of Judah–is left feeling miserable and frustrated.
In a moment of true honesty, Jeremiah speaks his mind to the Lord. It is bold and brazen to speak candidly to the Lord. Perhaps surprisingly to some of us, God desires us to “speak our minds.” We should lay before the Lord our frustrations, our anger, our confusion, and our wounds. We have suffered. And the Lord cares. The Lord listens. For the Lord to respond, though, we have to express our feelings and our thoughts sincerely. We then need to create a space of silence in our lives while listening so that we might hear God’s wisdom and be aware of his abiding and caring presence.
Jeremiah knew that he had to speak harshly, “to root up and to tear down.” Yet, he also had confidence that his role would then be “to build and to plant.” He wanted to witness the signs of new life and hope. He is tired of preaching dread (Cf. Jeremiah 1:10). In many ways, I understand his exhaustion. Consistently speaking to our current pandemic’s struggles–with all the sickness, suffering, loneliness, fatigue, worry, and concerns for work, school, and family–seem to have little effect. There are no “magic” words that eliminate difficulties. We ought to look to Christ, though, as our example and our source of grace. The cross is the source of hope, not desolation. Jesus dispels the false logic that equates suffering from defeat. Our parish has the mission to continue placing before each other and before our community the Kingdom of God worth working at and investing in with our whole selves. Let us stay focused on encouraging one another and building upon the blessings.
Another challenge that we face in our nation is tragic discord, as we tend to see those with differing opinions, thoughts, and perspectives in an adversarial way. On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King delivered his famous, “I Have a Dream” speech. This “dream” is the same vision that the prophets share when describing the coming Messiah. The “dream” is the same world that Jesus makes a reality. The “dream” is the same mission entrusted to his disciples and to us, to collaborate in building His kingdom, here and now. We have a critical role in making the Kingdom of God realized and experienced. A good place to begin is to recognize the dignity and immense worth of our brothers and sisters. While we often have very high esteem for our nation and its ideals, we cannot overlook its injustices and systemic problems. We have to join our predecessors who worked hard to eliminate slavery, to create true equality between men and women (including the right to vote, which is hard to believe was only given to women by the 19th Amendment, 100 years ago and would still take many more years for women of color and disabled women to have that same right), and to abolish unjust prejudice and racism. We may not be complacent in this crucial work for the healing and ethical development of our nation.
As we enter a very contentious political election, I pray that we may strive to remain civil and approach subsequent dialogue and discussion with humility. Humility acknowledges that we are not inherently right or better than others. Most people in our nation, including politicians (although our memes and satires deny this opinion), are well-intentioned and care for people. And even in, an error of judgment or thought, others often provide important considerations and perspectives that enrich us all. Let us ask the Lord to aid our leaders and people from shore to shore to participate in God’s plan, that we might tear down what is broken and sinful in our society and build a more just and caring community.
Some of the key considerations for this week:
▪ “Sign up” for Mass for September 5 and 6. Register here.
▪ In Howard County, Bridges to Housing Stability aims to eradicate homelessness. We are blessed to partner with and support them in their mission. Like the parish and many other charitable organizations, they are seeking creative ways even in these challenging days to build awareness to their efforts and create a community of support. The 10th Annual Chili & Challenge has gone virtual, but with partnerships through Tino’s Italian Bistro and the Periodic Table, you can preorder chili for pickup on Sunday, September 13th, and connect to their virtual experience. Learn more about this important ministry or participate at https://bridges2hs.org/.
▪ Our prayers go out to all our students, teachers, staff, and families as school resumes this week. May the Lord continue to reveal the wonders of our world and aid students in the pursuit of knowledge!
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
In the Lord,
Rev. Michael S. Triplett