Day 224: The Weeping Prophet

The Book of Jeremiah

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(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Jeremiah 1:1-3 This book consists largely of prophecies attributed to the prophet Jeremiah, who remained in Judah as the more prominent citizens were carried off to Babylon following the conquest of Nebuchadnezzar. Therefore, he had firsthand knowledge of the destruction of Jerusalem (597-587 BC) and the difficulties faced by the survivors who remained behind since they did not meet the conditions to be brought to Babylon. Jeremiah proved to be a thorn in the side of those left behind during the Babylonian Exile; the prophet pointed out their sins and urged them to authentic conversion. These candid admonitions earned him near-universal hatred and imprisonment. Released after the second Babylonian conquest and deportation in 587 BC, Jeremiah likely fled to Egypt when conditions worsened. He and his devoted scribe, Baruch, maintained contact with the Jews in exile, encouraging them to repent and not lose hope for Judah’s restoration. The prophecies in this book do not have a clear chronological order, which has resulted in several different editions over the years. Nevertheless, Jeremiah was a key prophet and figure during this period and was instrumental in preparing the exiled Jews for a return to their homeland. His primary messages are the banishment of idolatry, faith in the one true God, the need for conversion, and (implicitly) the coming of the Messiah.

Ch 1:1-10 This passage refers to the mystery of personal vocation: God not only calls Jeremiah to serve him as a prophet but also preordained him for this purpose before his conception. In a similar fashion, God chose Mary from all eternity to be the Mother of Christ, and John the Baptist was designated from before conception as the precursor who would introduce the Son of God to the world. For this latter reason verses 4-10 is proclaimed as the First Reading at Mass on the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. (CCC 2158, 2167)

Ch 1:5 God willed the existence of each person and gave him or her an explicit calling to salvation and holiness before the creation of the world; at the same time God has a personal plan for every individual. This verse-among many others-supports strongly the Church’s teaching on the sanctity and inviolability of human life from the moment of conception to natural death. Society must respect unborn human life by providing legal protection against abortion and any other violation of human rights. It is incumbent upon civil authorities to protect and assist expectant mothers so they can provide readily the necessary care for their newborn infants. (CCC 2270)

Ch 1:6 Jeremiah’s response was not a refusal to answer God’s call. Like Abraham, Moses, and (later) Mary, he responded with humility to God’s invitation but, given his sense of unworthiness, was strongly perplexed for being chosen personally. (CCC 2584)

Ch 1:11-19 These two visions of Jeremiah are symbolic. The Hebrew, sheked, meaning “almond tree,” also means “watchful,” or “alert”; the almost tree is “alert” enough to become the first tree to bloom in late winter. The image of a rod made of almond also symbolizes God’s readiness to punish those who sin. The boiling pot is easier to understand: the political and military tensions are about to boil over as enemy forces are advancing upon Jerusalem from the north. The Lord commissions Jeremiah to speak to the people of Judah and to urge them to repent to spare themselves the punishment of yet another defeat. (CCC 707)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we thank you and give you praise. Oh man, Lord, thank you so much. Thank you for this day and thank you for your words of conviction, even your words of condemnation because, Lord God, we never want to be on the receiving end of those words. We never want to be on the receiving end of your judgment, of your justice. God, we deserve your justice, but we need your mercy. And so when we hear your words to the city of Tyre, and we hear what you are going to do with Jeremiah’s life, we give you thanks that you spoke these words and you revealed your longing for justice and the fact that you are a God of justice and you do not delay in your judgment. Lord God, in the way that you do not delay in your judgment, please also do not delay in your mercy. Those of us who have failed you and have fallen, we need your mercy more than ever right now in this moment in our lives, this moment in my life I just ask you for your mercy today, Lord. Your mercy is new every morning. Help me to turn back to you. Help us all to turn back to you in whatever way, great or small, that we have wandered away or fallen away or run away. Help us always to find the way back to you in Jesus. We make this prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.”