24Jul 24th July. Thursday, Week 16.

Saint Declan of Ardmore.

Declan was an early Irish saint of Ardmore in the Deisi Mumhan, later known as County Waterford. He converted the people of that region in the late 5th century and founded the monastery of Ardmore on the Waterford coast. This Munster saint, named in a 17th century manuscript among the quattuor sanctissimi episcopi, may even have preceded Saint Patrick in bringing Christianity to Ireland.

1) Jeremiah 2:1-2; 7-8; 12-13

The word of the Lord came to me, saying: Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem,

Thus says the Lord: I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride,
how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.
I brought you into a plentiful land to eat its fruits and its good things.
But when you entered you defiled my land, and made my heritage a abomination.

The priests did not say, “Where is the Lord?”
Those who handle the law did not know me;
the rulers transgressed against me;
the prophets prophesied by Baal, and went after things that do not profit.

Be appalled, O heavens, at this,
be shocked, be utterly desolate, says the Lord,
for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water,
and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water.

Gospel: Matthew 13:10-17.

Then the disciples came and asked him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’ With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: ‘You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn — and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

Spiritual vision and spiritual blindness

Each of us has our moments of spiritual insight and also perhaps we can drift into spiritual apathy and blindness at times. Like our biblical forebears we need to link ourselves consciously to those priveleged moments of grace and significance. Jeremiah urges us to keep alive our initial ideal, when in God’s name he says: “I remember the devotion of your youth, how you loved me as a bride, Following me in the desert, in a land not sown. Sacred to the Lord was Israel, the first fruits of his harvest.”

We surely have memories of wonderful inspiration but through the passage of time, we tend to lose sight of these moments, our own personal “highs”. Perhaps we feel an echo of Jeremiah’s words applying to ourselves: “Two evils have my people done: they have forsaken me, the source of living waters; They have dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that hold no water.” During economic growth and prosperity there always was a heightened danger of abandoning God in favour of material greed and a glitzy social life, which the prophet graphically describes as “broken cisterns, that hold no water.”

We turn to Jesus to revive our best memories and the finest insights and ideals from the days of our youth. If we remember our fundamental call, our first inspiration, our first enthusiasm for life, then God’s grace can develop within us. In such a context we might re-read with more understanding those puzzling words of Jesus: “To the one who has, more will be given until that one grows rich; the one who has not, will lose what little he or she has.”