Saturday, October 3, 2009

Father, I Give You Praise, For What You Have Hidden From The Learned, You Have Revealed To Little Children!

The opening verses of the Book from which today’s First Reading is taken ascribe it to Baruch, the secretary of the prophet Jeremiah. It includes five very different compositions, the first and last in prose, the other three in poetry. Although the literary style of the prose sections indicates that they were composed in Hebrew, the earliest known form of the book is in Greek.

Today’s reading is taken from Chapter 4, (vv. 5-12, 27-29) in which the city of Jerusalem is represented as the mother of all exiles, who is assured by the LORD that her children will be restored to her.


Fear not, my people!
Remember, Israel,
You were sold to the nations
not for your destruction;
It was because you angered God
that you were handed over to your foes.
For you provoked your Maker
with sacrifices to demons, to no-gods;
You forsook the Eternal God who nourished you,
and you grieved Jerusalem who fostered you.
She indeed saw coming upon you
the anger of God; and she said:
“Hear, you neighbors of Zion!
God has brought great mourning upon me,
For I have seen the captivity
that the Eternal God has brought
upon my sons and daughters.
With joy I fostered them;
but with mourning and lament I let them go.
Let no one gloat over me, a widow,
bereft of many:
For the sins of my children I am left desolate,
because they turned from the law of God.
Fear not, my children; call out to God!
He who brought this upon you will remember you.
As your hearts have been disposed to stray from God,
turn now ten times the more to seek him;
For he who has brought disaster upon you
will, in saving you, bring you back enduring joy.”

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In today’s Gospel (Luke 10:17-24), the seventy-two disciples sent by Jesus to proclaim the Good News returned to him rejoicing. “Lord, even the demons are subject to us, because of your name.” Jesus reminded them that their authority came from him. “Behold, I have given you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions without being harmed. Yet, you ought not to rejoice because the evil spirits are subject to you. Rather, rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

Then Jesus turns his gaze toward heaven, and gives thanks to the Father for what the seventy-two disciples have been able to accomplish. “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. Even though you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to little children.” God does not reveal his truth to people because they are learned and clever. Rather, he enlightens the mind of those who those who place their trust in him in the way that little children trust their parents.

Consider the saint whose feast day we celebrate at the beginning of this month of October. Therese Martin entered the Carmelite convent at Lisieux in Normandy when she was fourteen, and died there of tuberculosis when she was twenty-four. The only education she received was in the convent school. The only writing she left behind was a journal she wrote at the direction of the Superior of the convent. In that journal, she wrote:

I feel called to become an Apostle. I would like to travel over the whole earth to preach your name and to plant your glorious cross on infidel soil. But, O my Beloved, one mission alone would not be enough for me. I would like to preach the Gospel on all five continents simultaneously, and even to the most remote isles. I would be a missionary, not for a few years, but from the beginning of creation until the consummation of the ages. But above all, O my Beloved Savior, I would shed my blood for you even to the very last drop.

Sister Therese’s journal was not opened and read until after she died. But then, it was read by the bishop, and eventually by the Pope. Eventually, she accomplished the goal she prayed for in the passage cited above: She was canonized a Saint, and she was named Patroness of the Missions, and Doctor of the Church.

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