05 October, Saturday of the Twenty Sixth Week
Bar 4:5ff. Grief for the Jews in exile, pleading with them to turn again and seek God.
Lk 10:17ff. Jesus proclaims the special grace reserved for the humble of heart.
First Reading: Baruch 4:5-12, 27-29
Take courage, my people, who perpetuate Israel’s name! It was not for destruction that you were sold to the nations, but you were handed over to your enemies because you angered God. For you provoked the one who made you by sacrificing to demons and not to God. You forgot the everlasting God, who brought you up, and you grieved Jerusalem, who reared you. For she saw the wrath that came upon you from God, and she said:
Listen, you neighbours of Zion, God has brought great sorrow upon me; for I have seen the exile of my sons and daughters, which the Everlasting brought upon them. With joy I nurtured them, but I sent them away with weeping and sorrow. Let no one rejoice over me, a widow and bereaved of many; I was left desolate because of the sins of my children, because they turned away from the law of God.
Take courage, my children, and cry to God, for you will be remembered by the one who brought this upon you. For just as you were disposed to go astray from God, return with tenfold zeal to seek him. For the one who brought these calamities upon you will bring you everlasting joy with your salvation.
Gospel: Luke 10:17-24
The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
Joyful in spirit
The secret stirring of the heart comes marvellously to the surface in Jesus’ prayerful rejoicing in the Holy Spirit, “what you have hidden from the learned and the clever, you have revealed to the merest children.” One mystery crops up when a city as stately and as endowed with promise as Jerusalem is seen in “great mourning” . Another glimpse of mystery overawes us in the sight of Jesus in prayer.
Mystery can never be mastered by anger or pride, not with success and prosperity, not even with academic learning and syllogistic reasoning. Anger and pride deprive us of delicacy and concern, so necessary to approach any mystery in life. Learning and reasoning deal so much with what can be controlled that the intuitive and the marvellous are overlooked. Success and prosperity so involve us in materiality and in worldliness, that our sense of the other-world or inner-world is blurred and denied. The three readings for today invite us to take the time to stop and meditate, to let our spirit slip beneath surface concerns and quick answers, and to be at prayer with Jesus.
Baruch brings to mind all the photos of Jerusalem’s ancient walls that we have seen. Some of us will remember walking along those walls, so stately and silent, so old and steeped in memories. The walls of Jerusalem have seen it all, from the triumphant days of David to the battering rams of Babylonians and Romans, Crusaders and Moslems, and now the Israeli army. These walls are as old as dead tombstones, yet amazingly new life is always growing between the rocks, in the crannies, where green shoots are sprouting. Such is the spirit and tone of Jerusalem’s prayer in Baruch, “Hear, you neighbours of Zion, God has brought great mourning on me… my sons and daughter. With joy I fostered them but with mourning and lament I let them go…. I am left desolate.”
The gospel allows us a rare glimpse into the deepest of all mysteries, the prayer of Jesus. The gospels, especially that of Luke, frequently enough speak of Jesus at prayer, but seldom do they do more than preserve a reverent silence around such moments. Here he suddenly becomes silent, overcome by a hidden power. Rejoicing in the Holy Spirit, he thanks the Father that “what you have hidden from the learned and the clever, you have revealed to merest children.” We can only hope to remain so delicately sensitive and grateful in the midst of any triumph or success we may achieve.