This first reading from the prophet Jeremiah is a beautiful piece of poetry, but the tragedy and calamity it expresses is beyond help. We are fond of reminding ourselves and others that as bad as things might get God will have mercy, forgive and restore if we return to him. At this unfortunate moment in the history of Israel, however, God Himself declares that it is too late: nothing can spare this generation from destruction. Jeremiah, faced with this revelation, does not abandon his lament and plea for mercy. “We recognize, O Lord, our wickedness, the guilt of our fathers, that we have sinned against you. For your name’s sake, spurn us not, disgrace not the throne of your mercy, remember your covenant with us and break it not.” – The response of the Lord comes in the following passage, “The LORD said to me: Even if Moses and Samuel stood before me, my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them away from me and let them go.
Let us remember. We are in the Holy Presence of God.
Welcome Mullen Junior Class to your induction as Seniors. We celebrate this moment with Mass, because there is an important connection between what we expect of you as future leaders of your school and what faith inspires you to do. Faith in the presence of God is one of our core principles, but the secret is that it is the one core value that strengthens and enlightens all our other core values. As Lasallians, we do not simply believe that God exists, we do not believe that in some invisible and transcendent place – detached from our world, separated from our daily lives – there is an impersonal, intangible, and distant entity that simply holds everything in existence. We believe in a God that has broken the silence and spoken to us throughout history, a God who continues to speak to us today through the Holy Scriptures, and the circumstances of our lives. Faith is the power to actually hear the voice of God whenever we hear the words of the Scriptures read. Today, by faith, Jesus teaches his disciples, gathered at the last supper, the divine remedy for fear. He says, “You have faith in God, have faith also in me.” The difference is subtle, but important: “You have faith in God” – Jesus is reminding his disciples of their experience of faith – they are experienced listeners, they hear the Word of God, the words of Moses, and the prophets. They have come to know what God’s voice sounds like and recognize Him whenever they hear the Torah, the Psalms, or Isaiah. They have come to recognize the same voice whenever Jesus speaks to them – but Jesus is more than a prophet, He is more than just another messenger. “You have faith in God, have faith also in me.” The power of faith that connects you to the invisible Father when you listen, that same power of faith, when placed in Jesus, causes you to know that the divinity is right here, in the flesh, present. Faith in the presence of God, is faith in Jesus Christ, God made present in the flesh. This faith is the core value that strengthens us in our Christian and LaSallian mission.
These days of Christmas are given to us so that we might meditate upon the mystery of the Incarnation. The Incarnation is a joyful mystery, but it is also a luminous mystery – full of light. Light is a very important theme in the scriptures, and of all our senses, we rely to a great extent upon our eyes. Light is what makes the things around us visible, and when we see things, we begin to know them and understand them. The theme of light in the first reading is an invitation to consider a light that is not physical – not the sun, not the flame of candle or fire. We are to consider a spiritual light. What is spiritual light? It is something that makes us know and understand in a deeper way – it causes us to know and understand what we cannot see and know by our eyes. Light for the mind makes us understand reality more completely, we call that light, truth. When you know the truth, your whole mind is full of light: everything else you have known becomes clearer, and things you may not have understood become apparent.