Jeremiah 11;18–20; Psalm 7:2–3, 9bc–10, 11–12; John 7:40–53
In the classic Saint of the Day: The Definitive Guide to the Saints, which I used alongside the lectionary in preparing these reflections, there’s a great description of St. Teresa of Avila: “Like Jesus, she was a mystery of paradoxes: wise, yet practical; intelligent, yet much in tune with her experience; mystic, yet an energetic reformer. A holy woman, a womanly woman.”
The lectionary readings continue to give us the sense of the growing plot against Jesus. Today we hear a snippet from the plot against the prophet Jeremiah, then we listen to discussions about whether Jesus is the Messiah. The chief priests and Pharisees debate this as well, and a dissenter, Nicodemus, offers support for Jesus. Against the backdrop of such tension, Teresa seems an ideal guide. She lived in the turbulent sixteenth century, when the world was being shaken by the discoveries of explorers from Europe. In society, intellectual debate stirred the pot, and in the church, the Protestant Reformation and the impact of the Council of Trent made this an age of upheaval.
Teresa brought her prodigious gifts to her time. She grounded her public persona in a deep personal life. As a woman, she was able to hold her own against opposition. Within her Carmelite Order, she was a reformer who brought change through her writing and speaking. Teresa might find herself at home in our contemporary world and church. Her talents—recognized by her being named a doctor of the church in 1970—would serve us well as we continue to come to know Jesus.
Read about Teresa’s life or some of her spiritual writings.
When our enemies surround us and plot against us, Lord,
rescue us from their clutches and defend us from harm.
Be our strength and our salvation.