31Jul July 31. Tuesday of Week 17

July 31. Tuesday of Week 17

Or: St Ignatius of Loyola (Memorial)

Jer 14:17ff. Jeremiah laments his people’s destruction and begs God to remember his covenant.

Matt. 13:35ff. Jesus explains the parable of the sower in terms of the final judgment.

The Way of the Covenant

It sounds like a rather gloomy ending for our July readings – with Jeremiah speaking about eyes running down with tears, and wondering if God has completely rejected his people; and then in the gospel Jesus speaks about the final judgement, including the punishment of the wicked like weeds being burned in a furnace. It is the kind of serious moral message that caused Ignatius of Loyola to reconsider his priorities in life, when he went on retreat to Manresa and opened his heart to a profound conversion.

But seen from another angle our readings have a comforting promise too: God does not forget his covenant even if we human beings so often fail in our moral response. And while Jeremiah fully confesses that he and his people have sinned, he still prays with confidence “do not forget your mercy towards us.” Further, while Jesus does indeed speak about the unrepentant “weeds” being thrown into the fire – a warning against taking sin too lightly or neglect what God requires of us, the ultimate aim of the divine Harvester is to gather us safely into God’s barn. The parable ends with the promise that “the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their father.”

Taken together, today’s readings can have upon us the sobering effect of an old-style parish mission, reminding us of the eternal truths: death, judgement, heaven and hell. The way of the covenant is surely open to us; and God intends us each one of us to enjoy eternal life. But We may not be complacent about this and expect to be saved without our own willing cooperation. This surely is included in Jesus’ crisp advice: let anyone with years listen!

First Reading: Jeremiah 14:17-22

You shall say to them this word: Let my eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease, for the virgin daughter – my people – is struck down with a crushing blow, with a very grievous wound.

If I go out into the field, look – those killed by the sword! And if I enter the city, look – those sick with famine! For both prophet and priest ply their trade throughout the land, and have no knowledge.

Have you completely rejected Judah? Does our heart loathe Zion? Why have you struck us down so that there is no healing for us? We look for peace, but find no good; for a time of healing, but there is terror instead.

We acknowledge our wickedness, O Lord, the iniquity of our ancestors, for we have sinned against you. Do not spurn us, for your name’s sake; do not dishonour your glorious throne; remember and do not break your covenant with us.

Can any idols of the nations bring rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Is it not you, O Lord our God? We set our hope on you, for it is you who do all this.

Gospel: Matthew 13:36-43

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!