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Living the Good Life

First Reading: Jeremiah 28:1-17

In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah,
in the fifth month of the fourth year,
the prophet Hananiah, son of Azzur, from Gibeon,
said to me in the house of the LORD
in the presence of the priests and all the people:
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel:
‘I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.
Within two years I will restore to this place
all the vessels of the temple of the LORD which Nebuchadnezzar,
king of Babylon, took away from this place to Babylon.
And I will bring back to this place Jeconiah,
son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah,
and all the exiles of Judah who went to Babylon,’ says the LORD,
‘for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.’”

The prophet Jeremiah answered the prophet Hananiah
in the presence of the priests and all the people assembled
in the house of the LORD, and said:
Amen! thus may the LORD do!
May he fulfill the things you have prophesied
by bringing the vessels of the house of the LORD
and all the exiles back from Babylon to this place!
But now, listen to what I am about to state in your hearing
and the hearing of all the people.
From of old, the prophets who were before you and me prophesied
war, woe, and pestilence against many lands and mighty kingdoms.
But the prophet who prophesies peace
is recognized as truly sent by the LORD
only when his prophetic prediction is fulfilled.

Thereupon the prophet Hananiah took the yoke
from the neck of the prophet Jeremiah and broke it,
and said in the presence of all the people:
“Thus says the LORD: ‘Even so, within two years
I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon,
from off the neck of all the nations.’”
At that, the prophet Jeremiah went away.

Some time after the prophet Hananiah had broken the yoke
from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah,
The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah:
Go tell Hananiah this:
Thus says the LORD:
By breaking a wooden yoke, you forge an iron yoke!
For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel:
A yoke of iron I will place on the necks
of all these nations serving Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon,
and they shall serve him; even the beasts of the field I give him.

To the prophet Hananiah the prophet Jeremiah said:
Hear this, Hananiah!
The LORD has not sent you,
and you have raised false confidence in this people.
For this, says the LORD, I will dispatch you from the face of the earth;
this very year you shall die,
because you have preached rebellion against the LORD.
That same year, in the seventh month, Hananiah the prophet died.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 119:29, 43, 79, 80, 95, 102

R. (68b) Lord, teach me your statutes.
Remove from me the way of falsehood,
and favor me with your law.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
Take not the word of truth from my mouth,
for in your ordinances is my hope.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
Let those turn to me who fear you
and acknowledge your decrees.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
Let my heart be perfect in your statutes,
that I be not put to shame.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
Sinners wait to destroy me,
but I pay heed to your decrees.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
From your ordinances I turn not away,
for you have instructed me.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.

Gospel: Matthew 14:13-21

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist,
he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.
The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.
When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already late;
dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages
and buy food for themselves.”
He said to them, “There is no need for them to go away;
give them some food yourselves.”
But they said to him,
“Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”
Then he said, “Bring them here to me,”
and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples,
who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied,
and they picked up the fragments left over—
twelve wicker baskets full.
Those who ate were about five thousand men,
not counting women and children.

NAB

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Do you want to live a truly good life?

I don’t mean a hedonistic life, one merely filled with self-interested pleasure, but, rather, one in which you are truly pursuing what is good, what is true, what is beautiful. A life in which the things you do, the choices you make, draw you ever-closer to the source of all Goodness.

Our saint today and the Responsorial Psalm in today’s readings draw us to reflect on this more deeply.

Being a Christian requires more than just saying our prayers and going to church on Sundays. It requires a harmony between what we believe and the way we live our life.

The natural law, written on hearts, helps to direct us on this path of goodness, but sometimes there are questions we face that are not so black-and-white. In her wisdom, the Church provides us with moral theology, a wonderful resource that guides us in “how one ought to act.”

It is our responsibility to inform our conscience in these truths to the best of our ability so that our actions and our choices best jive with what is right. Each must act according to one’s conscience, but it is our duty to train our conscience well. (CCC 1782-1785.)

Don’t let this training talk be a burden to you, dear soul!

I have always found “the yoke easy and the burden light” when I make the effort to allow these truths to shape me, rather than just going off of my whim. There is a ‘lifting’ even in the midst of difficulty knowing my heart acts in accord with God’s will.

Our saint today, Saint Alphonsus Liguori, was a man greatly concerned with this practical aspect of living a Christian life. First studying law and then continuing on to theological studies when he became a priest, he sought to understand and teach others these moral precepts well. He desired the good life, the life rooted in God’s law that resulted in true freedom, and wanted to lead others along this path.

May we, too, be desirous of this. And may we, too, strive to the best of our abilities to understand how we are to live the life given to us.

Remove from me the way of falsehood,
and favor me with your law….
Let my heart be perfect in your statutes,
that I be not put to shame.

What issues of morality do you find difficult to understand or accept? Take some time today to read and pray over them, asking the Holy Spirit for better understanding so that you may live a truly good life. 

photo credit

Laurel Muff is a creator and appreciator of beautiful things. She resides with her husband and daughters in Northern California. You can find more about her here.

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