Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21
Have you ever had a "Jeremiah Day"? We catch a glimpse of Jeremiah’s personal turmoil in today’s reading. God called Jeremiah to be a prophet, to warn the people that their ways were leading them to destruction. The people didn’t like hearing this and set themselves against the prophet, quarreled with him and desired to stop him. Jeremiah attempted to do good, yet the people were incensed against him and saw him as the enemy. Jeremiah begins to feel that it would have been better not to have been born. Then he complains to God that life is unfair.
I am sure we have had a "Jeremiah Day" or two. We try to do what is good, but it is misunderstood, made fun of or ignored. We wonder if doing good is worth it. We find ourselves getting ill-tempered. We wonder where is God; why doesn’t God do something? What can we learn from Jeremiah?
First, Jeremiah directed his affliction directly to God. Because he had a strong relationship with God (the treasure of the Gospel reading), the prophet could boldly and honestly admit his discouragement and tell God how God should act: "God, you need to change the attitudes of the people of Jerusalem."
Second, Jeremiah listened to God’s response. What did he hear? God did not say that the people needed to change, but that Jeremiah needed to change. "If you repent . . . and bring forth the precious without the vile you will be my mouthpiece." Jeremiah was becoming like the people: angry, resentful and contentious. If Jeremiah was to be a faithful prophet, he would have to let go of the "vile" and "bring forth the precious" (God’s love for the people).
When I feel life is unfair, can I be honest with God in expressing my despair, anger, resentment or desire for revenge? Can I keep my heart open to hear God’s response that maybe I am the one who needs to change my attitudes? Then I can hear God’s words: "I am with you to deliver and rescue you…"
Fr. Don Webber, C.P., is Provincial Superior of Holy Cross Province and resides in Chicago.