The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you. For thus says the Lord: Your hurt is incurable, your wound is grievous. There is no one to uphold your cause, no medicine for your wound, no healing for you. All your lovers have forgotten you; they care nothing for you; for I have dealt you the blow of an enemy, the punishment of a merciless foe, because your guilt is great, because your sins are so numerous. Why do you cry out over your hurt? Your pain is incurable. Because your guilt is great, because your sins are so numerous, I have done these things to you.
Thus says the Lord: I am going to restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob, and have compassion on his dwellings; the city shall be rebuilt upon its mound, and the citadel set on its rightful site. Out of them shall come thanksgiving, and the sound of merrymakers. I will make them many, and they shall not be few; I will make them honored, and they shall not be disdained.
Their children shall be as of old, their congregation shall be established before me; and I will punish all who oppress them. Their prince shall be one of their own, their ruler shall come from their midst; I will bring him near, and he shall approach me, for who would otherwise dare to approach me? says the Lord. And you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Today’s first reading includes a famous promise from God that echoes across both the Old and the New Testament: “And you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” However, we must not rush to the promise from God without noticing what precedes it in the reading.
While I would like to shy away from the description of pain in today’s reading, the fact undeniably remains that a great many people do experience this pain and understand it as something God has done to them. As a follower of Christ, it is not my place to deny this very human reaction to hardship when others experience it. Rather, I must make myself available to help restore hope in God’s promise. I pray that I might also have the willingness to ask for such help should I feel the “incurable” or “grievous” hurt Jeremiah describes.
—Joe Wotawa, SJ, is a scholastic of the USA Central and Southern Province completing his theology studies at the Xavier University Institute for Black Catholic Studies and the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University.
God of all mercies,
God of all consolation,
comfort us in our afflictions
that we in turn might comfort those who are in trouble
with the same consolation we have received.
—Prayer in times of Suffering and Needs, published on the USCCB website
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