Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, bishop and doctor of the Church
(Jeremiah 15:10.16-21; Matthew 13:44-46)
The prophet Jeremiah is treasured because his work it is so confessional. Like St. Paul and St. Augustine, he does not flinch from revealing intimate feelings. Even when his thoughts cast him in a dismal light, he expresses them.
In today’s first reading Jeremiah finds himself ridiculed for preaching the Lord’s judgment on Judah. He is ostracized and persecuted after predicting Judah’s downfall. His despair becomes so great that he feels that God Himself has betrayed him. So he calls God “a treacherous brook,” that cannot be relied upon for water. It is a faithless remark, but God neither condemns nor coddles Jeremiah for it. Rather God allows Jeremiah to repent. He gives him the opportunity to experience God’s goodness rather than wallow in self-pity. Fortunately, Jeremiah opts for God.
Today the Church honors St. Alphonsus Ligouri. In the eighteenth century Alphonsus served as a bishop, authored a well-reasoned moral theology, and founded the Redemptorist Order. Like Jeremiah, he experienced misunderstanding and persecution. Also like Jeremiah and as model for the rest of us Alphonsus remained true to the Lord. When we feel wrongly judged, we too should respond with trust that God will redeem us.