The Good Seed

Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted (Matthew 15:13).

This scripture in today’s gospel (MT 15:1-2, 10-14) reminds me of the parable of the weeds among the wheat (Matthew 13:24-30). God only plants good seed, but the enemy plants weeds among them. However, when is harvest time, his laborers will “first collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning, but gather the wheat into the barn” (Matthew 13:30).

In this world, there will always be weeds among the wheat; war and peace, love and hate, good and evil. Their coexistent is humanity’s imperfection exposed. However, God’s perfection through Jesus’ divinity will free us from the weeds in our lives as today’s psalm reassure us: “The LORD looked down from his holy height, from heaven he beheld the earth, To hear the groaning of the prisoners, to release those doomed to die” (Psalm 102:20-21).

God loves us as a gardener loves his most precious flower. This may be difficult to believe because of the many heartbreaks we have experienced in our lives. As the prophet Jeremiah tell us “All your lovers have forgotten you, they do not seek you” (Jeremiah 30:14). We can be relieved that God is more than a short-lived love. He is our heavenly Father.

— God, I give my heart to you this day; may you will it to please you.–

Lessons on Trust

(Commentary on 8/4/14 readings)

And Jeremiah the prophet said to Hananiah the prophet: Listen to this, Hananiah! The LORD has not sent you” (Jeremiah 28:15).

In today’s scriptures we hear two very different stories but both share one theme: trust the Lord.

In the Book of Jeremiah (28:1-17), we hear about a false prophet, Hananiah, claiming to speak on behalf of God. Instead of being anxious about this event, Jeremiah calmly rebukes the false message. Why was Jeremiah so confident? Because Jeremiah trusted God’s words on false prophets, “do not fear him” (Deuteronomy 18:22).

In today’s gospel Matthew (14:22-36), Jesus invites Peter to walk with him on the waters. Peter accepts the invitation, but midway through his walk, Peter doubts Jesus’ command and begins to go under until Jesus pulls him out. Jesus goes on to chide Peter: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31b).

Why are their reactions so different? .

Today’s scriptures are meant to contrast Jeremiah’s and Peter’s trust in the Lord; not to measure their righteousness, but to celebrate their humanity and to offer us hope.

Regardless of where we stand in relationship with the Lord, there are occasional failures and successes. Nonetheless, if we persevere and always ask: “Lord, teach me your statutes” (Psalm 119:68b), the Lord will show us how to trust in him as he taught Jeremiah and Peter.

— God, I give my heart to you this day; may you will it to please you.–

We Always Come First

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.” (Matthew 14:13)

How would have you reacted if, in the moment of mourning a friend, people interrupted you so they could be healed? Many of us would have asked for privacy or maybe we would have been too sad to help others, or maybe we would have been angry by people’s lack of consideration. I think we would have been understanding of Jesus if he felt those emotions. We can see from his actions that his love is not like our love. We always come first and nothing can separate us from this love, not even John’s murder. That’s the message of today’s gospel (Matthew 14:13-21).

As the Apostle Paul explains in the epistle to the Romans: “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us” (Romans 8:35). Jesus will always be there for us. As is it written in today’s Psalm “The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs” (Psalm 145:cf.16).

The depths of Jesus’ love for us are unknown. The Prophet Isaiah alludes to this when he says: “All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; Come, without paying and without cost” (Isaiah 55:1). These are not empty words. As we experience in today’s gospel, these words are fulfilled in the miracle of the loaves bread and fish.

We must be careful, however, not to misconstrue Christ’s love for us as a cheap commodity that we can buy and throw away. Yes, his love is there for the taking, but we must do our part to justify it. What may that be? “Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life” (Isaiah 55:2-3) God does not force himself on us, we must heed his words to receive his love.

 

— God, I give my heart to you this day; may you will it to please you.–

 

Friends in High Places

But the hand of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, protected Jeremiah, so they did not hand him over to the people to be put to death (Jeremiah 26:24).

In today’s readings, we witness the advantage of having friends in high places. From the Old Testament (Jeremiah 26:11-16, 24), we hear about threats of death to Jeremiah. However, his life is saved by Ahikam whose father was Shaphan; an influential official in the reign of Josiah, King of Judah.

In today’s gospel (Mathew 14:1-12), we hear about the murder of John the Baptist by Herod Antipas. John was a simple man who “wore clothing made of camel’s hair…His food was locust and wild honey” (Matthew 3:4). On the other hand, Herod was the tetrarch of Galilee; a powerful man who enjoyed all the luxury of earthly pleasures.

At first glance it seems that John the Baptist lacked friends in high places. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth because when John poured water from the Jordan River on Jesus, he befriended the most powerful king, the cornerstone of God’s dwelling place. By doing so, it was John whom like David slayed the giant with a single stone, thus saving himself and us from eternal death.

— God, I give my heart to you this day; may you will it to please you.–