Sunday, February 3, 2019
Today, in Mercy, we begin our readings with God’s stern but magnificent commission to the prophet Jeremiah:
… stand up and tell them
all that I command you.
What Jeremiah had to tell the Israelites was not good news. He prophesied that if they didn’t repent from their idolatry, Jerusalem would fall into the hands of foreign oppressors. Nobody wanted to hear it. They led Jeremiah a life, to the point that he is often referred to as “The Weeping Prophet”. Over the course of forty years and reign of five Judean kings, Jeremiah’s message continues until, in the end, it comes to fulfillment in the Babylonian Captivity.
How did Jeremiah sustain such confrontational preaching in the face of intractable resistance?
Perhaps the answer lies in our second reading. He did it out of love.
Arthur Cundall, a British scripture scholar writes:
“God wanted a person
with a very gentle and tender heart
for this unrewarding ministry of condemnation.
Jeremiah’s subsequent career shows that
he had this quality in full measure.”
Jeremiah is a living example of the loving, humble, truth-seeking, hope-impelled soul described in 1 Corinthians, our second reading.
In Luke’s Gospel today, we see Jesus rejected in the same manner as Jeremiah. Jesus’s message asks his listeners for deep conversion of heart in order to be redeemed. Like the ancient Israelites, they don’t want to hear it. They cannot break through their comfortable existence to acknowledge its emptiness.
The message for us today? Is there an emptiness somewhere in our hearts that we have not yet given over to God? Are we filling it with “false gods”, rather than the loving virtues described in Corinthians?
We know where our “dead spaces” are, and we deeply intend them to come alive again. Today, let’s begin to walk the bridge from intention to practice.
Music: Can’t help it. I love it.