Day 253: Lamentations of Jeremiah

Jeremiah 45:1-5 This personal prophecy for Baruch promised that he would be spared the imminent chastisements as a reward for his loyalty.

Ch 46:1-28 The last major section of Jeremiah consists of prophecies against several nations. Jeremiah warned Judah to refrain from forming alliances with neighboring nations against Babylon rather than counting strictly on divine assistance. Furthermore, the prophet stated clearly that a failure in reliance on God would lead to Judah’s destruction. As always, the people were reminded that repentance and conversion would prevent their imminent defeat. The predicament of Judah was irreversible and, therefore, their only option was to surrender to the Babylonians and accept their punishment on account of their sins, which punishment was meant to encourage conversion and obtain purification. These prophecies argue further against an alliance with Egypt given their military weakness demonstrated by two major defeats at the hands of the Babylonians. 

The Lamentations of Jeremiah

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

Lamentations 1-5 This book is comprised of five poems that mourn the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 587 BC. It is closely associated with The Book of Jeremiah, which ends with a mention of the siege. It often is attributed to Jeremiah himself and may once have been included in the book bearing his name. The first four chapters are acrostic poems with the first letter of each verse corresponding to the Hebrew alphabet. The first, second, and fourth chapters have twenty-two verses, i.e., the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet, while Chapter 3 has sixty six verses in which groups of three successive verses follow each letter. In spite of the somber tone, The Book of Lamentations is rooted in the unshakable hope and trust that God would ultimately restore Israel to its former glory.

Ch 1:1-11 The first chapter has two distinct sections of eleven verses each. The first section surveys the sad condition of Jerusalem. In biblical times, a widow was reliant upon her children for support, and, if she was childless, she would have to count on the charity of others. During the Babylonian Exile, Jerusalem was likened to a widow who had been abandoned totally. 

Ch 1:12-22 The aggrieved widow mourned without relief and, at the same time, maintained her hope in God; she realized that this pain and sorrow was the penalty incurred by sin. These verses have been read in liturgical celebrations during Holy Week since the ninth century because they express so poignantly the grief befitting the Passion of Christ.

Ch 1:12 This verse, or an adaptation of it, is often inscribed on the Crucifix used in the Stations of the Cross devotions and processions. 

Proverbs 17:23 Bribery is not the same as a legitimate incentive to perform a particular action well; rather, the briber seeks influence through dishonest methods. Moral corruption in business, politics, or in the workplace invariably leads to a society afflicted by injustice and poverty. 

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

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise. Thank you so much for your Word. Thank you for introducing us to the cries, the experience of Baruch, who was this kind of silent partner with Jeremiah, who was the scribe; Jeremiah, thank you for introducing us to his suffering. Thank you for introducing us to Lamentations, this heartbreak of the people of Jerusalem, the heartbreak of Jeremiah as he walked through the streets and saw such great suffering. And thank you for the wisdom that you offer us in Proverbs. Help us to not just hear the wisdom, but to live wisdom with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. Help us to love you with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”