Lent - Week Five - Jeremiah
Perhaps the most notable prophet whose task was to attempt a turning away from the idolatry that occurred after the death of King Josiah. That is when worship of idols resurged. Jeremiah attempted to counsel Zedekiah with a lot of opposition. Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 and its leading citizens were sent into exile. This is when Jeremiah spoke the great oracle of the New Covenant, sometimes known as the Gospel before the Gospel.
A common accusation against the prophets as seen through Jeremiah; “Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says the Lord. Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, against the shepherds who shepherd my people; You have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them, but I will take care to punish your evil deeds.” (Jer. 23: 1-2).
God is very angry with those whom he has chosen to lead his flock, and they looked after their own needs forgetting the sheep they were to shepherd and lead to pasture which is nourishment for them. The fodder to graze on is the word of God. They selfishly only pleased their own satisfaction.
There is no doubt that anyone who has been given the grace of God to lead the flock, be it clergy or laity, is susceptible to scrutiny for whether they followed their vocation. We can not think that the ministry to lesser people belongs to someone else once we accept the grace from God to teach and nourish the flock of the Lord. The responsibility of accepting this ministry is paramount with the position of; “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.” (Jn. 15: 16 -17).
The oracle of the New Covenant: “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant and I had to show myself their master, says the Lord. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer will they have need to teach their friends and kinsmen how to know the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sins no more.”
(Jer 31: 31 -34).
A similar theme found in the Canticle of Zechariah; “You my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.” (cf Lk. 1: 76 - 77).
From punishment to salvation, the promise of God found throughout the theme of Lent/Easter for those who believe in the mission of Jesus Christ.
Ralph B. Hathaway, Lent 2022, Jeremiah