During the Sundays of Ordinary Time there is something in the Gospel which is prefigured in the First Reading. Today Jesus is prefigured by Jeremiah in two ways. Each is identified as a prophet; each faces opposition from those to whom he is sent. God assures Jeremiah: “They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you.” The people of Jesus’ home town turn against him to the point of wanting to hurl him over a cliff, but he is able to get away unharmed. Despite the opposition they face both Jesus and Jeremiah continue their prophetic mission. Today’s Responsorial Psalm could have been prayed by both, expressing their courage to continue their mission while relying upon divine strength and protection.
Anointed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and confirmation we, the Church, are called to proclaim a prophetic message which is often opposed. The specific form and aspect of opposition has varied throughout the centuries. One aspect of the Church’s prophetic message that is most opposed today is what Saint John Paul II called the “Gospel of Life” in his encyclical letter Evangelium Vitæ of March 25, 1995. He began with these words: “The Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus’ message. Lovingly received day after day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as ‘good news’ to the people of every age and culture.” In a recent letter to the Pontifical Academy for Life, Pope Francis commended “its constant effort to promote and protect human life at every stage of its development, its condemnation of abortion and euthanasia as extremely grave evils that contradict the Spirit of life and plunge us into the anti-culture of death.” (January 6, 2019, n.8)
This gospel of life was proclaimed by the bishops of our country in their letters to Congress during the health-care debates. Thousands from across our country—and hundreds of young people from our diocese—recently participated in the March for Life in Washington, DC, on January 18. Did anyone see any report on that in the secular news media? No. God’s words to Jeremiah underlie and inspire the gospel of life: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”
The Church’s gospel teaching on sexuality and marriage is also an object of opposition today, but it is rooted in the teaching of Saint Paul in today’s Second Reading when he says that “Love…rejoices with the truth.” The truth is that human sexuality has its legitimate expression only within the context of marriage. The Second Vatican Council teaches: “The intimate partnership of married life and love has been established by the Creator and qualified by His laws…for God Himself is the author of matrimony, endowed as it is with various benefits and purposes.” (Gaudium et spes, n. 48)
As members of the Church we are a prophetic people, called to sing of God’s salvation. “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) “The truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) “[God’s] word is truth.” (John 17:17)
This Sunday, February 3, is the Memorial of Saint Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, the patron saint against illnesses of the throat. Although the proper Mass for this memorial is not celebrated because it falls on Sunday this year, the blessing of throats will be imparted after all the Masses this weekend.
Pray the Rosary this week for people who are homeless and all who suffer because of the cold, and for people sick with the flu. Pray for those in the armed forces serving abroad and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.