30 Sept, Friday of Week 26

Bar 1:15ff. The prophet laments the unfaithfulness of his people. “From our time in Egypt until now, we have disregarded the voice of the Lord, our God.”

Lk 10:13ff. Even the pagan cities like Tyre and Sidon would have reformed long ago, if they had seen the miracles done by Jesus.

Memories and Hopes

Today’s text from Baruch dates to the Babylonian exile (587-539 B.C.), and the verse immediately preceding refers the autumnal feast of Tabernacles. A collection was being taken up, to be sent to Jerusalem for sacrifices and for helping the poor in the holy city. The feast of Tabernacles was originally an octave of great rejoicing. During the exile, however, and in the postexilic period, the joy prescribed for the feast was tinged with sorrow. The contrast between what the feast celebrated and the reality of life was too great. In Ezra’s day the people needed to be told, “Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength” (Neh 8:9-10).

Baruch insists that sorrow is the fault of the people, not of God: we should blush with shame, for we have been disobedient; we went off after the desires of our own heart. Yet the same merciful God of the exodus is with us today. We are asked to repent, to reform our ways, to set our faces towards our good inspirations and yes, most of all to be men and women of hope.

We too tend to question God’s wisdom. Yet if life’s hopes and demands seem too overtaxing on our human strength, we are reminded how much we belong to God’s family. Like Moses in the desert, we have experienced the goodness, even the miracles of God. In the gospel, Jesus reminds us again of these miracles and holds out to us, even when melancholy and without hope, a new life, miraculously transformed.

First Reading: Baruch 1:15-22

And you shall say: The Lord our God is in the right, but there is open shame on us today, on the people of Judah, on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and on our kings, our rulers, our priests, our prophets, and our ancestors, because we have sinned before the Lord. We have disobeyed him, and have not heeded the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in the statutes of the Lord that he set before us. From the time when the Lord brought our ancestors out of the land of Egypt until today, we have been disobedient to the Lord our God, and we have been negligent, in not heeding his voice. So to this day there have clung to us the calamities and the curse that the Lord declared through his servant Moses at the time when he brought our ancestors out of the land of Egypt to give to us a land flowing with milk and honey. We did not listen to the voice of the Lord our God in all the words of the prophets whom he sent to us, but all of us followed the intent of our own wicked hearts by serving other gods and doing what is evilin the sight of the Lord our God.

Gospel: Luke 10:13-16

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But at the judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades.

“Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

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