A prophet’s words can still stir the soul.
Hear again from today’s scripture selection the Prophet Jeremiah sent by the Lord not only to the people of Judah in the 7th century B.C., but to us today:
Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel:
Reform your ways and your deeds, so that I may remain with you in this place.
Put not your trust in the deceitful words: "This is the temple of the LORD!
Only if you thoroughly reform your ways and your deeds; if each of you deals justly with his neighbor; if you no longer oppress the resident alien, the orphan, and the widow; if you no longer shed innocent blood in this place, or follow strange gods to your own harm, will I remain with you in this place, in the land I gave your fathers long ago and forever.
How much more clearly can God speak to us? In so many ways and so many places – and too often in God’s name – we have turned from God. Innocent lives are shot out of the sky, children flee for a safer place to call home, rockets fly indiscriminately across borders, gangs terrorize villages and city neighborhoods, and those who were once peaceful neighbors turn on each other because they differ in their worship or their ethnic roots. God begs us to return to the way of peace and justice.
When I hear Passionists pray, "May the Passion of Jesus be always in our hearts," I believe they are asking me to hold in my own heart the sorrow that I feel when I look around and see the same kind of injustice and brokenness Jeremiah and Jesus both saw. Before I can repent, reform and renew myself, I certainly have to recognize the injustice and brokenness out there in the world, but also within my own life.
I don’t like it, but I need Jeremiah to speak the truth to me and to our world today. I need to be riled up and made to feel uncomfortable hearing the prophet’s word. It is only when I know something is terribly wrong can I begin to make it right.
Robert Hotz is a consultant with American City Bureau, Inc. and is the Director of The Passion of Christ: The Love That Compels Campaign for Holy Cross Province.