Doing the Right Thing Does Not Guarantee Any Reward
In the first reading (Jeremiah, 18, 18-20), the prophet Jeremiah is presented to us as an exemplary image of one who proclaims the word of God. Nevertheless, there are plots against him. People find his teaching uncomfortable, and they want to get rid of him. He is seen as a troublemaker. In the eyes of his critics, getting rid of Jeremiah will make their own lives easier. Without him around to pronounce harsh truths, the priests, sages and others can go on just living their lies as before without any qualms of conscience.
Jeremiah’s life and message contradict their life. Their words are so bland and harmless, and lull people into complacency as they have always done. But Jeremiah is puzzled. “Should evil be returned for good?” Jeremiah asks, referring to the attacks being made on him when he passes on God’s word to the people.
This is a question that is often asked in the face of persecution. Jeremiah’s reflection in this situation is also our own experience and questions as Christians. We experience a confusion of values where objectivity is misunderstood. In our own lives, too ,we sometimes prefer to live our normal life shielding ourselves from any challenges to change.
Jeremiah’s case today shows us that doing good does not guarantee that we will receive good from people in return. He calls us to persevere in doing the right thing and to always be open to challenge our habits.
Save Me O Lord in Your Kindness
It could be the case that when we decide to act lovingly in all we do, we become vulnerable. People will take advantage of us. But the words of today’s Psalm, (31:5-6, 14, 15-16) assures us that our hope and refuge and strength are in God. Trust in God’s kindness and obedience to his will ensures peace of mind in every situation.
Jesus’ View of True Discipleship
The world is not ready to hear words of truth and justice. It does not like the true prophet who has the tendency to draw people’s attention to the things they don’t want to hear. Jesus had that habit of drawing people’s attention to what they do not like. In the gospel from Matt 20, 17-28, the mother of James and John was ambitious for her sons. She wanted the top place at every table with Jesus for them. But Jesus sidesteps and says that the one who is to be in the honoured place with God should be the one who serves most. “… but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” Matt, 20, 26-28.
Greatness with Jesus has little to do with success, reputation or wealth. It has to do with living simply and to be always at service. This is greatness, and it is the way Jesus shows the love of God among us. The ones who live for the service of God are honored for their love and service. To love is to serve. To love is to be called to go beyond myself and my needs for others. Jesus came among us to teach us how to love to the end.
The question I take from today’s liturgical readings is: Have I ever experienced that ‘going beyond’ myself for others?
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