Good Zeal

Jeremiah: A Prophet for Today

Prophet Jeramiah by Michelangelo Sistine Chapel“You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped!” (Jer 20:7a)

These words from Jeremiah the prophet has followed me throughout my years in the monastery since it was quoted by the homilist at my first monastic profession liturgy. I return to them when life’s challenges become crushingly difficult to bear and when realities in which I find myself are far different from anything I could have imagined when I first responded to the call of the monastic journey.

Recently our Scripture readings for Morning Prayer have been from the Book of Jeremiah, which recounts the prophet’s foretelling of the destruction that would happen to the city of Jerusalem and the great suffering the people of Judah would experience as a result of their idolatry, corruption, and ungodly ways. During the years of 598–587 BC, Jeremiah tried to warn and to counsel the reigning king of Judah of Jerusalem’s impending doom, but the false prophets in the king’s court persecuted him for his unpleasant message. This is the context of Jeramiah’s lament (20:7-18) that begins with the above quote.

Jeremiah is the patron of all those who are called and committed to doing God’s work in the world and get nothing but rejection, ridicule, and persecution in return. It is no easy task to speak the truth to power a message that those in power do not want to hear. It still happens today. Dedicated civil servants who have spent their entire lives serving their country and its citizens with integrity and courage are brutally eviscerated in social media for standing up for justice and the common good. They are accused of treason. Their lives and those of their loved ones are threatened. Their very personhood is shredded in the court of public opinion without any basis in fact or reality.

Jeremiah’s prophecies indeed came to pass. Jerusalem was destroyed by the Chaldeans in 587 BC and a majority of Judah’s population was sent to Babylon in exile. Jeremiah watched and lamented as all that was once beautiful and holy was desecrated, stripped of its adornments and reduced to rubble and ash. Ungodly actions lead to ungodly outcomes. This is playing out in cities and nations around the world.

So, what do we take from this sobering reflection on then and now? The Paschal Mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ. We stare the awfulness of Good Friday in the face with the conviction of Easter Sunday strengthening us from within. God does not abandon the faithful ones. God tells us to keep doing “the next right thing,” whatever it may be. Care for your neighbor. Show up for worship with the community. Live with integrity. Speak the truth. Respect the dignity, rights and freedoms of every human person. Work for the building up of the whole and not just for oneself. Live a God-like life. Proclaim the Gospel with every fiber of your being. Be merciful and compassionate. Godly actions have godly outcomes.

By Sister Therese Haydel, OSB


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