from Our Mothers’ Wombs
This Sunday I would like to focus in
on the first reading, from the beginning of the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah.
This reading is the call of Jeremiah to fulfill God’s plan for him.
The Lord says to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed
In many ways, the Lord says the same thing to us.
He knew us before we existed. He
has a plan for each of us. This is
our Divine Individuality. It is the
reason that God created each of us.
We all have days when we are our best selves, good days, and days when we
are anything but our best selves, bad days. I have found a common element to my
bad days. When I have bad days,
there is something within me that justifies my actions by conceding that I’m
just one of many people. Maybe you
can see yourself doing that also. These are the days when we justify our
behavior by saying that we are merely conforming to our society.
We rationalize our actions behind the old: Everybody is doing it.
And then we are just one of many because we refuse to take a step away
from conformity and take a step into our Divine Individuality.
These are our bad days, or months or years.
But then we have our good days. On
our good days we are not concerned with whether or not we are different from
everyone around us. On our good
days, we are only concerned that we allow God’s love to flow through our
individuality, our talents, our uniqueness.
On our best days we manifest our individual image of God to the world.
I want to talk about courage now. When
we respond to the call to be the person God created us to be, we enter into a
realm of faith that demands courage. Jeremiah,
responding to the call to be a prophet, was mocked and persecuted.
He was spat at and beaten. They
threw him into a cistern and left him for dead, all because he would not conform
to what the other false prophets were saying. He would not conform.
He was courageous.
Jesus, responding to the call to proclaim a new type of Messiah among the
people, was mocked by his immediate family and ridiculed among his friends and
neighbors, the people who watched him grow up.
They laughed him out of the Synagogue and tried to kill him right there
in his own home town of Nazareth. He had the courage to resist giving in to
I’m going to throw a deep thought at you from the theologian and
spiritual writer Kirsopp Lake. Lake
died about sixty years ago. Here’s
the thought: “Faith, true faith, is not belief in spite of evidence, but
life in scorn of consequence.” (Kirsopp
Lake, Stewardship of Faith, 1915 [I think].
It is not just Jeremiah and Jesus who faced being mocked and persecuted
for their faith. We also are called
to live in a way that leaves us open to conflict with society. We are called to
have the courage to be that unique
person the Lord calls us to be without regard to the difficulties others might
have with our exercise of our Divine Individuality.
We must be willing to speak the truth that is at the core of our lives
without concern as to how others will react to this truth.
We must have the courage to be our best selves.
This level of faith is far deeper than the mere recitation of dogmas or
performance of routine actions. This
is the realm of faith that draws us into the mystery of our individual
relationship with God.
I hate being a cliche. I
hate being a stereo type. I hate TV
programs and movies about priests that portray all priests as out of touch pious
residues of an age that really never existed. Some guy tried to sell me a copier
recently and pandered to me, “The good Father this, the good Father that.”
He had no shot at making a deal. I
hate being a cliche.
I hate it when I sin, because when I sin
I am just a cliche. When I
sin I choose to be just another one of everyone else who is doing this or that.
I love it when God gives me the courage to be my best self. In those moments of my life, usually when I’m still sore
from the two by four that God whacked me over the head with, in those moments, I can come to a deeper understanding of the
presence of God working his wonders within me, around me and through me.
How about you? Are you aware
of your best self? Do you realize
how much courage it takes to be the person the Lord created you to be? Do you realize that when you are that image of God the world
had never seen before and will never witness again, you are one with God in the
mystery of his existence in your life?
Do we realize that when we have the courage to allow God to work through
us, we find infinite meaning to our lives?
Then we are numbers no longer. Then
we are prophets of the most high, delivering a unique aspect of God’s truth.
Who are those people whose lives have made a significant contribution to
the world? Who are those people
whose lives have had meaning? Who
are those people who have risen above the numbers?
They are the ones who have dedicated their lives to fulfilling the truth
of the Lord that they alone possess. We call these people “set aside for
God.” We call them “Holy.” We
call those who fulfill their Divine Individuality “saints.”
And we are called from our mothers’ wombs to be among them.