You Have Been Dedicated By God!

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jer 1; 4-5, 17-19; 1 Cor 12: 31- 13: 3; Luke 4: 21-30

Dc. Larry Brockman

You have been dedicated by God, did you know that?  You see, Jeremiah’s words today apply to you as much as they do to Jeremiah.  I quote:  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born, I dedicated you.”  Yes, indeed, each and every one of you was known by God before you were born.  And God dedicated you to something.  These words definitely apply to you and I.  God doesn’t make junk, and he fashioned each and every one of you for something.   

Now Jeremiah was dedicated as a prophet.  Because, as our first reading tells the story, he heard God calling him to be a prophet and he heard God promising him to be with him.  Jeremiah was a reluctant prophet, but God promised to keep Jeremiah from being crushed.  He did not promise to guard him against suffering.  Indeed, Jeremiah’s suffered in his own time because his words bore God’s truth- an uncomfortable truth for Jeremiah’s people, and that brought Jeremiah an uncomfortable life.  And yet, we know that Jeremiah was not crushed.  And ultimately, Jeremiah triumphed over his adversaries because his words live on today, and serve as a lesson for all of us.  Yet his detractors suffered the demise he predicted.   

What is God calling you to?  Do you hear the word of God speaking to you about your calling?  Now before you answer that, consider Jesus experience in the Gospel.  He reads the scroll of Isaiah’s scripture in his home Synagogue, and tells the people that the reading was fulfilled in their hearing.  The reaction is mixed.  In an initial reaction, people acclaim him.  But then there are others who say wait a minute- who does this guy think he is?  Isn’t he just one of us?  Jesus then speaks of prophets not being accepted in their own town and quotes two Old Testament stories where God’s favor has been bestowed on foreigners rather than the Jews.  In both cases, the prophets messages were known to their own people and it rolled off of their backs without having any effect.  But the message of the prophets was new and fresh to the foreigners.  And so, these foreigners responded with genuine faith, and that faith was rewarded.   

These stories angered the people in Jesus synagogue because they realized that they were being told that they were like the Jews of old in these two stories.  You see, although the people in Jesus’ Synagogue were familiar with Isaiah’s scripture, that familiarity caused a sort of blindness in them.  They weren’t really hearing the word of God because it was too available to them, too familiar.  It had been proclaimed in a given context for centuries.  People were comfortable with that context.  It was a context that didn’t involve them.  It was a context that described happenings centuries ago to a group of other people- not them.  How dare some mere carpenter come along and shake them out of their comfort zone, and imply that the scriptures were being fulfilled in their time!   

Is it possible that we committed Catholics can suffer from the same kind of blindness with the scriptures?  We hear scripture proclaimed each week.  In fact, we hear the same scriptures every three years because our readings are taken from a three year cycle.  Do our minds lock into the “same old- same old” context, that these things happened long ago and don’t affect us?  Or are our minds open to God talking to us about our lives today?   

Now, if you agree that God knew each of you before you were born, and that he has dedicated you to something, then realize that he, too, is going to speak to you through the word of God.  He is talking to you through his scriptures every time you hear them.  Somewhere in these scriptures there are messages- just for you.  It is up to us to hear these scriptures in a fresh way, and to be open to when God is talking to us.   

Personally, I feel It would be really hard for me, or for any of you for that matter, to deny that today’s second reading isn’t speaking to each of us.  Wow, what a message.  Because no matter how good we are with the talents God has given us, it is all too easy to be self motivated, and not motivated out of love.  Patience with folks who don’t see things my way;  kindness to people who have hurt me; rejoicing over someone’s good fortune who I think hasn’t earned it; these are all things that are hard for me, and I bet they are hard for most of you as well.  And, we have all heard this scripture so many times before.  And so, we don’t really take it to heart.  It makes me uncomfortable, but by tomorrow, perhaps I will forget that twinge of conscience.  But if someone tells me that I just don’t get it,  Why I’m likely to get upset at them  How dare they?  Well, that’s what Jesus was talking about.  We, too, may be like the crowd in Jesus Synagogue. 

So consider this.  Just like the prophet Jeremiah, we can measure our success in our Faith not by how comfortable our faith is making us feel, but by how uncomfortable it is making us feel. 

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