Jeremiah’s complaint in the First Reading is that the leaders of his day had refused to do justice for the poor, the alien, and the widows of the land. It was an essential aspect of their covenant with God, but they refused this justice. Jeremiah prophesied that God would raise up a shepherd who would “reign and govern wisely…and do what “ is right and just.”
This prophecy was fulfilled in Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the king foretold by Jeremiah who would do what is just and right in the land, giving to all as their dignity deserved, for that is after all what justice is, whether it be to God or neighbor.
St. Paul says of Christ Jesus, “He is our peace, who made us both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity…” Paul’s insight is that Jesus did this “in one body, through the cross.” He created a common space where peace is forged in truth and becomes a balm for the soul. Jesus is our peace.
A leader must have a broad vision so that no one is left outside of his concern. The Gospel tells us that when Jesus arrived at the deserted place and saw the crowd, “he was moved with pity for them…” No one was left outside his compassion. But he not only had compassion, he took action to meet their needs: he taught them many things; he took bread, blessed it, and fed them with his own hand; and he eventually would feed them with his own body and blood. Jesus combined heartfelt compassion with the steadfast will to act and relieve their misery. That is what mercy is: a heart that bears the sufferings of others and a firm and effective will to do something about it. We rightly call Jesus: the Lord our Mercy.
We have to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. He leads us to what is right, frees us from fear, and holds everyone in his mercy. In the Eucharist he gives us the power to do the same. Let us welcome him who is our justice, our peace, and our mercy.
Excerpts from Father Vincent's Sunday Homily.