A Safe Place
(4th Ordinary Sunday: Jeremiah 1:4-19; 1 Corinthians 12:31—13:13; Luke 4:21-30)
We begin this reflection with a prayer, for ourselves or others in need, addressed to the Lord in today’s Psalm. “Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety, for you are my rock and my fortress.”
God called Jeremiah to be a prophet, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you.” Imagine what it would be like to hear such words, to be certain that the Lord has a plan for us.
Jeremiah was young and inexperienced, and tried to refuse; but God promised to be with him and, as we hear in today’s first reading, to make him “a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass,” ready for the hard life that lay ahead.
Perhaps we are more willing than Jeremiah, but we still need the same assurances he received. We need a sense of security, trusting always that the Lord is our refuge.
Consider Maximin and Mélanie, totally unprepared for their call. The sweetness of the Beautiful Lady’s voice made them feel safe, and the memory of her tenderness must have been a refuge for them as they faced the incredulity, and even hostility, of many people.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus did not initially meet with outright rejection in his home town, but neither did he find the welcome he might reasonably have expected. His old neighbors seem to have thought that he was putting on airs. We too, when we seek to share our faith, might sometimes, sad to say, be better received by people who know us less well.
As we read St. Paul’s famous description of love, in the second reading, the image of God himself keeps coming to mind. This ought not to come as a surprise, since St. John, in his First Letter (4:16), writes, “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.”
Our prayer might therefore take this form: “Your love is everything, O Lord. In it I take refuge, and I will never be put to shame.” Let us anchor ourselves to the rock of our salvation, i.e., a loving relationship with God, as we seek to bring reconciliation to our world.
Fr. René Butler, M.S. and Wayne Vanasse