In the First Reading today Jeremiah receives a mission to be a bearer of a message to his own people that they don’t want to hear. The Lord encourages him not to be discouraged and to be firm. The Kingdom of Judah, due to its infidelities, is going to be conquered by the Babylonians, and Jeremiah is told to deliver that message and to have Judah surrender so that their punishment is more lenient due to their repentance. Due to his message he is imprisoned, branded a traitor, and threatened with death multiple times. In the end Babylon conquers Judah the hard way and Judah suffers all the more for it.
In today’s Second Reading Paul describes love as something that can take a lot of punishment. Jeremiah loved the Lord and he loved Judah: the Lord was administering tough love to an obstinate people, and Jeremiah needed to be the messenger of that tough love, despite the hatred he received from his people as a result. Our Lord in today’s Gospel probably had Jeremiah’s mission in mind when he said a prophet was without honor in his own country. His childhood friends and loved ones wanted a stage show. Like Judah, they expected a miracle from the Lord that they didn’t deserve. When Jesus’ love gets tough, they show how poor their love is in comparison, but Jesus’ doesn’t diminish a bit.
Today’s readings speak to those on both sides of this conversation: those trying to communicate a hard truth to those they love, and those who spurn that hard truth. Let’s pray to be strong in truth and love when we’re called to share it with those we love, and let’s also accept with humility and love those messengers who help us try to see the truth more clearly as well.
Readings: Jeremiah 1:4–5, 17–19; Psalm 71:1–6, 15, 17; 1 Corinthians 12:31–13:13; Luke 4:21–30. See also 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B, 17th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, 22nd Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, and Thursday after Epiphany.