Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: July 31, Lectionary # 406. Jeremiah 26:11-16,24. Psalm
96:15-16,30-31.33-34. Matthew 14:1-12.
Conscience seems to be a theme that one could find in today’s readings.
Conscience is a gift of God whereby we are aware and sensitive to the
decisions we need to make while weighing the consequences of our actions.
It is within our very mind and heart that helps us learn from our
experiences to live up to our responsibilities. In the Bible it is
expressed by the heart in which God’s will is written: “They (the
Gentiles=us)show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts.
Their conscience bears a witness together with the law, and their thoughts
will accuse or defend them on the day when, in accordance with the Gospel I
preach, God will pass judgment on the secrets of men through Jesus
Christ.” (Romans 2:15).
Our freedom is bound up with the element of conscience, but it is the grace
of God that helps us to follow its naturally good inclinations to do good
and avoid sin. We can however dull or not listen to the promptings of our
conscience by rationalizing about our moral responsibility to self, God,
and others. Jeremiah stirs the consciences of those princes, priests, and
prophets who are willing to kill him, but upon his own confronting them he
helps them, on this occasion, not to kill him. “If you put me to death, it
is innocent blood you bring on yourselves, on this city (Jerusalem), and
Jesus presence in the territory of Herod Antipas stirs up some feelings
which we call “a guilty conscience.” He knows he has put John the Baptist
to death, but sees Jesus as a type who returns as John the Baptist! He is
bothered by his conscience. He will however continue to commit his
favorite sins and make foolish decisions by shedding innocent blood. He
makes the same decision in his enjoying a few moments of pleasure at the
expense of others. In a word he acts with a bad conscience and does not
enjoy the freedom of God given to those who follow their consciences to do
the good. It really is too late for him to right the wrongs he has done so
he continues to be troubled and not a peace with himself. He ends with a
We need, of course, to listen to the words of Jeremiah applied to ourselves
and to the words of Jesus. Often our recourse to a spiritual adviser is
another way of forming a good conscience. At the present stage of
salvation history, it seems that we have need of many people following
their conscience in what is good. We also need a few people who have a
“delicate” conscience! Amen.