Another major prophet graces Mass today: Jeremiah (18:18-20). Like all true prophets, His message of repentance to the Chosen People was not kindly taken to. In this short passage, the people he has come to save plot against him. The Christian easily sees Jeremiah as a type of Christ here. The people seek to trap the prophet by using (or misusing) his words against him. Sound familiar? Just recall the trial of Jesus and the many false witnesses brought in to testify.
Jeremiah’s plaintive cry, above, ends this reading. Leading up to this, he wonders why “must good be repaid with evil” (v. 20) as some look to kill him? He is only doing the Lord’s will, proclaiming a message that is intended to save the people. Was this not Jesus’ mission? In the first utterance of His ministry, Jesus says “Repent!” (Mk 1:15). The resistance of the religious leaders to this message ends up costing Jesus His life. Tradition has it that Jeremiah met a similar fate at the hands of his countrymen.
How does this apply to us today? Well, we are called to intercede to God on behalf of our country and our world. We certainly can find plenty of things to complain about in this culture of death and defiance of the Almighty. And we should work to change it. But anything we do must be done in conjunction with fervent prayer. We are not to throw up our hands in despair. We are not to retreat into our shell and hope that they “get what they deserve.” And if we find that we are persecuted for speaking the truth in love (because Truth and Love are just other names for the Lord) because we wish to “turn away [God’s] wrath from them” then we too can be justified in calling out to the Lord in the same manner as Jeremiah. Desperate, but never despairing, he continued his mission. So must we.