Jeremiah 1. 4 -5, 17 – 19
1 Corinthians: 12: 31 – 13.13
Luke: 4. 21- 30
Saint Mother Teresa once visited a family who were living in a remote village in southern part
of metropolitan city Calcutta. She along with her sisters entered the house . They noticed an
elderly man staying all alone by himself. When the sisters entered his house, they saw that it was
in a terrible mess, filled with dust. This man was tired of living and was simply waiting for
death. The sisters cleaned his house. In the process of cleaning the house, they saw a very old
lamp and asked him if they could clean the lamp and light it.
The man refused, saying, “For whom am I going to light the lamp; there is no light anymore in
my life.” Mother Teresa told him that if he let them clean the lamp and light it, she would make
sure that the sisters visited him regularly to share the love of God with him. The man agreed,
and they cleaned the lamp and lit it and prayed and had a meal with him. Many years later,
Mother Teresa received a letter from this man that simply said, “Dear Mother Teresa, I just want
to tell you that the light you lit in my life is still burning.”
Whenever I hear St. Paul’s hymn of love, that is, the second reading for this Sunday from I
Corinthians 13: 4-13, I think of this testimony of Saint Mother Teresa, and the ordinary and
extraordinary acts of kindness and love that many of us show in our relationships with others.
To love is to light the flame of life in another person. The fire of love that we are called to light
in people’s lives is the divine creative energy that gives them new life, new hope, new purpose,
and a new inspiration and courage to believe and to live again.
There are so many people today whose lives are covered by the dust of pain and sorrow; and
whose lives are messy like the home of this lonely brother in Calcutta, India. Can we be their
light? It is our Christian calling to raise those who have fallen, to wipe away the tears from the
eyes of those who are despairing, and to bring the light of Christ in a world that is filled with so
many pockets of darkness in the brokenness and wounds of our pandemic times.
Saint Paul begins his famous words on love in 1 Corinthians 13 by saying, “Love is patient.”
Often it is those we love with whom we are most impatient. This is often due to the fact that we
want to control those we love. We are called to love, and love is patient. We are called to love
as God loves. His love endures, His love forbears, His love preservers, and His love tolerates,
His love is patient.
With those we love we should imitate the sun and God. We should love patiently and with
allowance. Those we love will put clouds in the way of our rays of love. We should not try to
move the clouds; we should just continue to shine and love.
When we lose our temper, we practice the opposite of patience. When things don’t go as you
have planned or wanted, take a few deep breathes, let a little time pass, and try to see the
situation from five years down the road. No doubt you will recognize that it is really just a
speck on the canvas of life. If you can learn in pressure-filled situations to adopt the position of
a spectator from five years down the road, you will be more objective, you will make wiser
decisions, and you will spare yourself the embarrassment of losing your temper and having to
Often it is those little nagging situations that occur dozens of times a day that test our patience
the most. But at other times in our lives the tides of life seem to turn against us and larger
problems try to drag us down. A death in the family, a troubled relationship, a financial crisis, a
miscarriage, the loss of a job when any of these occurs, the tunnel of life can seem very dark.
Time seems to pass slowly. One day can seem like a lifetime, and one night feels like a year.
We look for light at the end of the tunnel but none appears. Sometimes just when we think
things couldn’t get any worse, a light appears at the end of the tunnel but the only problem is,
it’s a train coming in the other direction. These are the times that test our faith and our patience.
At such times we must remain focused on what it is we are trying to achieve in our lives. We
must surrender to God and allow our patient sufferings to purify and perfect our souls. The
only remedy I know for such times is to mediate on Heaven and the Crucifixion of Jesus. In
many cases these meditations will not take away the pain and anguish, but they do help make
sense of our sufferings. It is not possible to avoid all suffering in this lifetime. To try is the
work of a fool and leads only to unhappiness and isolation.
Develop the virtue of patience. Be patient with yourself, your God, and your neighbor. The
attainment of humility, or the struggle with pride, is one of those difficulties that arises for all of
us along the path. Some of us encounter this struggle in a difficult time when we need the help
of another but are too proud to admit our need. If you will not admit your needs, they will never
be met. For others, recognizing that they have done something wrong, have made a mistake, is
the challenge. They are then faced with the need to apologize someone, and this seems certain
to dent their pride.
Wise people admit when they are wrong. For other people, this struggle with pride comes
wearing the mask of an uncertain future. In our pride we want to control. In our attainment of
humility, we are prepared to surrender and trust.
Humility, or lack of it, can greatly affect the way we relate to ourselves, our God, and other
people. It also has an impact on our attitude toward our gifts and abilities. “What have you that
you have not been given?” St. Paul reminds us.
Our lives are full of gifts, such as food, clothing, friends, and homes, to name only a few. Each
of us has varying abilities to read and write, to sing and act, to laugh and make others laugh, to
teach and to learn, to run and to swim, to play guitar or piano, to invent, to paint, to bear and
raise children the list is as long as there are people on this planet. We are all given many gifts
and talents. The secret to success and happiness lies not merely in having these gifts and talents
but in recognizing where they come from. God is the giver of gifts.
Humility consists of recognizing two simple truths at the same time: first, our nothingness,
imperfection, and sinfulness; an second, God’s greatness and the great things He can do in and
though us. We are instruments. A paintbrush doesn’t take the praise for a masterpiece; the artist
Jeremiah complained that he was too young to admonish the people, but God told him to stand
up fearlessly and speak His word. He had nothing to fear, for God was with him. Under three
images, God described the strength He gave Jeremiah; a fortified city, a pillar of iron and a wall
Jeremiah accepted the vocation God gave him. He tried his best to turn the kings and the people
of Judah from their evil ways. He found his task really hard and shuddered at the thought of it.
Yet, once he realized this was God’s will for him, he set about the task and carried it out to the
bitter end. However, he did not succeed in saving his people. He saw Jerusalem destroyed and
its citizens carried off in chains to Babylon. His own life ended, if not in martyrdom, at least as
prisoner in Egypt, where his Jewish enemies had forcibly taken him. Yet he was a success
because he had carried out God’s will faithfully without counting the cost.
The Good News has a tendency to arouse opposition. When we go through the Bible, we see
that prophets are messengers of God’s Word. They were to urge the people to return to God;
they were to encourage those in despair and to speak the truth of God. Prophet Jeremiah stood
for truth, incurring the wrath of the kings, officials, priests and people. They rejected him and
John the Baptist came baptizing and preaching a baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins.
He questioned the immoral lifestyle of King Herod who, in retaliation, eliminated John.
However, his message which was actually God’s message lives still, and will live eternally.
Jesus came so that we may have life. Initially, He was accepted. Followers flocked to Him as
long as He was useful to them. But the moment Jesus disturbed their comforts, He was
opposed. They looked for ways and means to get rid of Him. In the end they attempted to
destroy the Man and His message. It is believed that most of the apostles were martyred.
Numerous are the persons who proclaimed the Good News and were martyred. And the world
today is no different.
Looking at history, one can find that people who stand for justice and right are often rejected.
The recent attacks on Christians all over the world, the demolition of churches, the killings of
devoted missionaries are telling examples. No wonder Jesus was rejected by His own people.
The locals were embarrassed by Jesus’ goodness, felt uncomfortable with His preaching an were
threatened by His lifestyle.
God knows you fully, better than you know yourself. Even more, in his wisdom, he knows the
plan for your life. He knows what you will face in the future, and he is pouring out grace to
prepare you even now.
Life is a mystery. Some things you will only understand in heaven and that is where faith comes
in, Faith in the loving God who knows everything. And one day, he will revel it all.
God bless you. Blessed Sunday