July with Jeremiah: Chapters 32 -41

jeremiah

Let us pray…

God of Justice,

Remove me from my comfort zones

so I can help the poor and vulnerable.

Open my eyes

to see the potential for change around me,

and give me the courage

to take the next step.  AMEN

There is a shift in Jeremiah’s prophecy.  For many years he had predicted pestilence, slaughter, famine and captivity.  Now that Jerusalem is falling, he is here to instill hope:  “I will bring upon them all the good I promise them,“ (32:42) and “Call to me, and I will answer you,” (33:3).  And it is a LASTING hope, a complete transformation of Israel:  “One heart and one way I will give them…I will make with them an eternal covenant,” (32:39-40).  Note how the Lord says He will make the covenant WITH them, not at them.  There is a partnership, with both sides giving.  How does God partner with you?

By following God and being “in covenant” with God, we will remain connected to God and to each other.  Our faithfulness is made evident by our choices, not only in what we avoid but also in what we choose to do.  When am I most tempted to make my own rules and be “in covenant” elsewhere?  How do the choices I make each day show my fidelity to God?  (From 3 Minute Retreat by Loyola Press)

Baruch is a friend that is loyal and true to Jeremiah.  He is there for him, even when it is hard.  It seems that Baruch wrote much of what we find in these scripture passages, although there are hints that a man named Shaphan was connected with the scrolls too.  Think of who your spiritual friends are…how do they help your faith?

Gedaliah is the son of this Shaphan, considered pro-Babylonian and “sell-outs” in order to receive power and prestige from the new Babylonian empire.  He is assassinated.  The government is falling apart as well as the city.  Poor Jeremiah is amidst all of this turmoil, mostly in jail or a cistern.  “Jeremiah was constantly exposed to the situation of God, and tirelessly attentive to the mood of the people, offering boldly the call, the challenge, and the warning, attempting to unravel the knots in the relationship between God and Israel,”  (Heschel, A., The Prophets, p. 139).

Sin means, “missing the mark”.  Jeremiah, using words from God, proclaims how the people of Israel and Judah have sinned which is why they are in this predicament.  Even when we know we are sinning, we sometimes delay going to God and being reconciled.  Think of St. Augustine before being baptized, saying “For there was nothing I could reply when you called me:  Rise, thou that sleepest and arise from the dead:  and Christ shall enlighten thee; wheras You showed me by every evidence that Your words were true, there was simply nothing I could answer save only laggard lazy words:  ‘Soon,’ ‘Quite soon,’ ‘Give me just a little while,’ (Confessions, p. 165).  These words from Jeremiah are meant to help us.  Don’t delay!  God wants to be in relationship (covenant, partnership) with us.

Closing Prayer:

Spirit of Peace,

Stop the raging seas of violence

and hate that fill our lives

so I can witness your love

and compassion to a hurting world.

Bless me with the words

to proclaim your peace,

the strength to live out your justice

and the courage to take the next step.  AMEN

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