Bar 4:5-12,27-29; Ps 69:33-37; Lk 10:17-24
This is good news for all of us. As the psalm reflects, “For the LORD hears the poor, and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.” This is good news for all of us not because if the Lord’s listening then we don’t have to pay too much attention to the poor. Rather, it is because the Lord listens to the poor that we have any compassion in our hearts. We who are made in his own image and likeness; we, too, listen and respond to the lowly ones. Indeed, sooner or later all of us experience what it means to be poor. Indeed, this is the truth of our human nature. We are poor, and we seek the Lord in our lowliness because we know that He wants to be found and become the treasure of our souls. The Lord revives our hearts when we seek him, and he seeks us with an even greater desire. All the heavens, the earth, the sea and all who dwell in them praise the Lord who hears the cries of the poor. Our ancestors and all who are in exile, away from all that is dear to them, are the truly poor. For them, God saves Zion, and the Lord rebuilds the cities of Judah. The preaching of Baruch summons those who love the Lord, “For he who has brought disaster upon you will, in saving you, bring you back enduring joy.” The Lord Jesus reveals in today’s gospel the true wealth of those little ones who follow him. We, like the first disciples, rejoice because our names are written in heaven. All our detachment, all our spiritual poverty, leaves us empty and ready to receive what many prophets and kings desired to receive. Such is the treasure before us in this Liturgy, the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Like our beloved holy father, Baruch cries out with confidence and conviction, “Fear not, my people!” The exiles have nothing to fear. It was the love of God that allowed them to be handed over to their foes. It was not because God had changed his mind about the covenant. It was not because God no longer loved his people. Indeed, the Lord loves his sinful and unfaithful people and at the same time he hates the sin that we have committed. Like a loving mother, Zion mourns and laments the sins of her children and she is left desolate because they have turned from the law of God. The prophet gives voice to this loving mother yet again as she cries out, “As your hearts have been disposed to stray from God, turn now ten times the more to seek him.” We, too, have to learn from our failure in relationship with God. We, too, are summoned to transform our willingness to turn from the Lord into a deeper desire to turn toward the Lord. How do we effect this transformation? We seek to uproot vice and plant virtue in the fields of our soul, and then we let the Holy Spirit do what only he can do. We are too close to our own growth process and sometimes we are blindsided and lost in our own efforts. Pride dominates the process, and we cover up rather than clean up. At just this moment, we need to step aside and let the Lord have his way within our souls.
There’s a great deal of rejoicing in today’s gospel, and this human and divine rejoicing reveals the truth of human nature and the truth of divine nature. With the original seventy-two disciples we return to the Lord rejoicing because we have seen the forces of the enemy weaken and fall before us. However, this is only superficial rejoicing. The Lord Jesus summons us to rejoice not because evil spirits are subject to us but because our names are written in heaven. We are no longer exiles; we are at home in the mystery of God. When our true identity is realized, this is the true cause of rejoicing in the human heart. The Lord Jesus rejoices in the Holy Spirit even as he praises the Father for his gracious gift to him of childlike disciples. This rejoicing in the Holy Spirit continues as he expresses his own childlike gratitude for those who have become part of his divine family, those who rejoice with him in the Holy Spirit and call God, Abba. This revelation of the true nature of God, Father, Son, Holy Spirit is the blessing we have over prophets and kings of old. They desired to know and love the Lord with such intimacy. Knowing Him as He really is and loving him with his very own love for eternity, this is the true cause of our rejoicing now and forever!