Marknoll Father Rodrigo Ulloa-Chavarry, who was ordained a Maryknoll priest in 2011, is currently serving in China.
The life of any prophet takes an interesting turn when he or she learns to depend on God's grace much more than on personal strength. For some prophets this realization doesn't come until after a sort of dialogue with God--think of Moses before the burning bush, Elijah inside the cave and Jonah on his way to the city of Nineveh, to name a few.
Jeremiah is no exception. Our first reading today talks about him. Let me remind you about the moment he learned to depend on God's grace much more than on his own strength. We need to go back to the first chapter of Jeremiah starting in verse 6 when he says to God, "Sovereign Lord, I don't know how to speak; I am too young."
Can you see a pattern of dialogue emerging? We all have our dialogues with God. They are so necessary, they keep us alive, in tune with ourselves and God's will even when we don't have a clue of what God is asking us.
The young Jeremiah doesn't have a clue of what God wants of him and he feels he lacks maturity, experience. Hence, he says to God, "I don't know how to speak..." Do you recall what God says in return?
God tells Jeremiah that he is not too young, have no fear, I am with you.
How many times can we quote Jeremiah when we have faced an invitation from God to go deeper within our ministry, to go the extra mile, to take our minimum to a maximum, and say, “I don't know what to say when faced with defending the environment, or confronting issues of race, or religion or equality. I don't know what to say when advocating for the rights of migrant workers here in Asia. I don't know what to say when advocating for peace making.
We want to say, “Choose someone else, God. I am not the person for this job.”
But this is the moment when our relationship with God grows and becomes passionate. This is when we put everything on the table.
God understands where we are coming from. God understood Jeremiah's honesty but at the same time, God encouraged him to trust more and let God do the rest.
I offer this prayer:
Loving God, we ask you today to send the Spirit of Jeremiah upon us. We want to make him our friend especially when we are facing issues concerning right judgement, your judgement, merciful God.
Open our eyes to the needs of our brothers and sisters. Inspire in us words and actions to comfort those who are labored and are burdened.
Enable us to serve others in the example Jeremiah, who depended on You and on this day, calls us to come closer. Amen
Photo: As a seminarian in Cambodia, Rodrigo Ulloa-Chavarry played the flute at a Mass with all Maryknoll missioners then serving in that Asian country. (S.Sprague/Cambodia)