Whom God chooses JER 1:4–5, 17–19; LUKE 4:21–30
In this Sunday’s readings we meet the youthful prophet Jeremiah as he encounters the Lord God and is empowered by Him. The Lord had seen his heart and He knew of Jeremiah’s sincerity and his steadfastness and faithfulness to Him, qualities that had made him a ripe candidate for the prophetic ministry.
Possibly there were many others, more senior too, to whom this privileged position could’ve been conferred but it was this young man who was chosen, and it was to him that God had spoken powerfully.
Jeremiah felt that he ‘knew his place’ for he was only a boy, “Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy”. But God purposefully touched and strengthened him for the formidable task ahead.
What a powerful message for today’s youth—many of whom would like to enter fully into the service of God but they feel intimidated by their very youth and are constrained to hold their place and not enter into the service to which they are being called—be it to ministry, teaching, or even to the priestly or religious calling!
And then we meet the young Jesus, freshly empowered through His baptism, as He came into the synagogue with a purpose. He came to deliver to His people and to minister to them but He was young and He was one of them—therein lay the problem, for as He said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown”.
But Jesus, in His discourse to them, proceeded to show that man has no say in whom God chooses; God has a special eye for the downtrodden and the suffering as opposed to those who seem to feel it is their right to a hierarchical position in His kingdom.
God is not partial to one’s status, to one’s bearing in society, or to one’s wealth or connections. God sees and cares for the neglected and for those who seem to be least recognised. Isn’t this the position with many of today’s youth who, like Jeremiah, feel intimidated by their own promise?
I remember the words of Marianne Williamson in her poem ‘Our Greatest Fear’
Our Greatest Fear is not that we are inadequate,
But that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant,
Gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some, it is in everyone.
And, as we let our light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.
My dear young person, if you feel the call of God on your life then it would be worthwhile if you immerse yourself in prayer; dwell in God’s presence and have a spirit that is open to His indwelling presence. It is in this sacred space that He will meet you and reassure, strengthen and prepare you to fulfil His mission.
Jeremiah, with all his doubts and fears, had to be somewhat forcefully encouraged into his mission; but Jesus knew Himself and, having just been baptised, He was ready to start His journey despite all the naysayers who felt He was just another “small town boy” and not capable of anything great.
It was heartening to hear of the encouragement that was given to the youth in last month’s Catholic Charismatic Renewal conference at the Centre of Excellence. They had been specially invited to this conference and were called to minister to others, and maybe, through that ministry, God was also ministering to many of them.
No one knows the ways of God or can determine His means, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgements and how unsearchable his ways!” (Rom 11: 33).
God, in His loving kindness, called the youth forward with a purpose, and so we bless God for the opportunity that was offered them. Church, in today’s new world, needs the dynamic and fresh input of our youth who see with today’s eyes, even as the older ones struggle to come to terms with the ever-changing machinations at play in the society all around.
We pray that our youth, in the power of the Holy Spirit, would open themselves to the call and avail themselves of the opportunities that are afforded them. Amen.
The Gospel Meditations for February are by Anne Marie Richardson, a retired educator and a parishioner of the Santa Rosa/Malabar cluster.