Jeremiah was the last great prophet before the catastrophe that overtook kingdom of Judea: the sacking of Jerusalem, the destruction of the temple, and the beginning of the people’s exile in Babylon. These events occurred because the leaders of the people, priests and nobles and a weak king, rejected the message of the prophet. Despite the plots against him Jeremiah is confidant: "the Lord is with me!" and "to you I have entrusted my cause." No matter what troubles and difficulties we face in life we must trust in the Lord.
The Church recalls Jeremiah’s experience at this moment in Lent because the leaders of Jerusalem (for John "the Jews") have rejected the message of Jesus. They "…picked up rocks to stone Jesus". For the time Jesus faces them down. What gives Jesus such power? He reveals it when he says: "…the Father is in me and I am in the Father." No matter what we face, this will be the source of our power as well. In the mystery of the indwelling of the Trinity in our souls, the Father is in us and we are in the Father.
Finally Jesus "retires" to the place where it all began, the Jordan River and John’s baptism. It was there that the Father revealed himself and sent the Spirit upon him. It was there that his ministry started. The ministry that would bring him to the cross! How appropriate that Jesus has come full circle. This was the calm before the storm.
Fr. Michael Hoolahan, C.P. is on the staff of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.