Jer 26:1-9; Ps 69:5,8-10,14; Mt 13:54-58
All great reformers of any institution are rejected and held in suspicion by everyone who resists the truth. With such leaders, we learn how to trust the LORD and pray in the words of Psalm 69. We take our refuge in the LORD, for in his great love he hears and answers our prayer. So many are those who hate us without cause; indeed, they outnumber the hairs of our heads. These enemies are too much for our strength even though they are wrongfully our enemies. Indeed, they do not understand or try to understand what we teach and the teaching we strive to live every day. How can we give back what we have never taken away? How can we recover from the false accusations of those who hate us? Indeed, it is for the sake of the LORD that we bear insult and that shame covers our face every day. We have become an outcast in our own families and we are strangers to our mothers’ sons and daughters. Indeed, it is zeal for the house of God that consumes us, and still the insults of those who blaspheme God fall upon us. Such suffering for the sake of the LORD brings us to our knees. At times like these all we can do is pray for the time of God’s favor. Only in his great kindness do we dare hope. Indeed, the LORD answers us with his constant help and faithful protection. Jeremiah must have prayed with this kind of zeal because his message was too much for his countrymen to hear and receive. Even the Lord Jesus was confronted by such resistance, so great was the hard heartedness of his countrymen. We cannot bear such suffering unless we are one with the Lord Jesus who gives us strength and courage every time we celebrate his death and resurrection in this Eucharist.
When all the people gathered about Jeremiah in the house of the LORD, they were not gathering to affirm him. They surrounded him with the threat, “You must be put to death!” In faithful witness to the Word of God Jeremiah preached to summon the People of the Covenant back to the God who gathered them into his courts. They were gathered in the house of the LORD; they were gathered to worship the LORD. Yet, their hearts were stone cold and closed by pride. They could not hear the promise of protection and liberation the Prophet proclaimed. Jeremiah spoke of God’s own desire to repent of the evil he had planned to inflict upon them for their evil deeds. The LORD desired union with his people more than his people desired union with him. This sad state of affairs still persists even after the preaching, healing, exorcism, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The LORD has been completely faithful to his covenant. In every generation he summons his people back to him, and in every generation his people resist and rebel against him and his servants the prophets and his Servant, The Christ. Even in this generation, we resist and rebel. This is our consistent and constant response to the call, turn back each of you from evil and repent. We have grown old in our ways. We seem to be at home with sin. We insist upon our own ways and reject the ways of the LORD. Anyone who preaches this message at any time in history will be rejected. No wonder Jeremiah and all the Prophets were hesitant to preach the message of the LORD. No one wants to be rejected and ridiculed. Yet, in the Prophets and in Christ, the zeal for the house of the LORD compelled them to speak a word of challenge and comfort. This same zeal places our lives on the line. Perhaps if we do not resist the zeal of the LORD, the people of the LORD will someday not resist his summons to holiness. This is the hope of prophets in every generation. Indeed, this is our hope.
Like the prophets before him, the Lord Jesus was doubted and misunderstood. When he came back to his hometown and taught in their synagogue, the Lord was not well received. His countrymen were astonished and resistant. They asked where he got his wisdom and his power. They thought that they knew everything about his background and his origins. They asked, “Where did this man get all this?” They were offended by his preaching. They accused him of hate speech. They had no time for his challenge or his comfort. This reaction did not debilitate the Lord, nor did it take away any zeal for his Father’s house. This rejection of the Lord Jesus is a description of what we can expect in our witness to the Kingdom of God. Only if we die with the Lord will we rise with the Lord. Only if we stand up to rejection like a solid wall of brass will we discover our union with the Lord Jesus. Because he knew in the depths of his heart that the Father accepted and loved him from all eternity, the Lord Jesus was filled with the peace that passes understanding. He could say with absolute confidence and complete security, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” This resistance to Christ and his gospel continues to slow down the arrival of the fullness of the Kingdom. Indeed, he chose not to work many might deeds there because they would misunderstand his power. They would have expected him to be the kind of messiah they wanted, a powerful leader to resist and overthrow the oppression of the Empire of Rome. They took little notice of the greater and longer lasting oppression of sin and vice. Indeed, it takes faith to hear and live in the truth of the Kingdom. Yet, the lack of faith at the time of Christ and the lack of faith even today does not prevent the arrival of the fullness of the Reign of God. It slows down the process, but it cannot prevent the ultimate victory of Christ Our Lord and God. Indeed, our openness to the mystery of the Kingdom and our willing reception of the zeal of the LORD will hasten the arrival of God’s reign. If we suffer with him we will reign with him.