Today's readings for the Ordinary Time liturgy, albeit the feast day that memorializes the parents of the mother of Jesus Christ, Anne and Joachim, are the words of God speaking to us from a good number of centuries. None the less, these are the message of God for us to come to understand.
From the days of Jeremiah in the 7th century BC to the days of Jesus we have the voice of God. Each of served as the messenger of God for us not solely for the times they lived on this earth all the centuries to come. For this blogger the failure, yes failure of our Church to make us of every subsequent generation better aware of Old Testament teaching and history has had its consequences. It is a sign once again that our Church is entrusted to human beings!
For instance, the first reading today speaks of God's frustration with the corruption that had taken its place among the "chosen people" in the kingdom of Judah and the city of Jerusalem. Jeremiah is given what for us is an unusual image and charge by God. He is to wear a loincloth -- today we say underwear -- until it was well "seasoned." Then, it was to be hidden in a rocky crevice near the Parath river. "After a long interval" Jeremiah was told by God to "fetch the loincloth." It was rotted and "good for nothing."
So what is the message? This is what was to happen: I will allow the pride of Judah to rot, and the great pride of Jerusalem." There will be the destring of their kingdom by invading kings and their armies.
And why did God chose the loincloth to convey his message? It may be strange to our culture but here it is: what article of clothing could be closer to to anyone? Yes, your underwear. That is how close Yahweh felt he was to the Jewish people who had corrupted their religious practices.
Jesus speaks to us about the kingdom of God in the gospel. He uses the often heard and well-remembered parable of the mustard seed -- God's kingdom may have started small but it has grown like the mustard tree. It is a kingdom open to everyone, saints and sinners alike, Catholics as well as any of the various Protestant religions, the Jewish folks and our Muslim brothers and sisters. The "mystery of the leaven" -- how a few small granules can rise up to a loaf of bread -- plays a part in understanding this kingdom of God. In the New Testament days leaven often symbolized the evil, the sin that existed, that was rasied up in the kingdom of God.
These readings are a call to holiness. It was, apparently, the call that captured the hearts of Joachim and Anne. Surely they had heard the words of the prophets in readings or songs, especially the Psalms of King David. Like Mary's parents, we are called to holiness that is the life of virtue. To experience it ourselves we must allow God to sow mustard seeds of his kingdom in our hearts. We must work not to be take in by the leaven that separates us from God.
So, this is how God speaks to us today. His words are important and timely.