Reflecting on Jer. 20: 10-13
Poor Jeremiah. He was a young man, called from his mother’s womb to speak what God was saying to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and neighboring towns. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t be stung by the ridicule of his peers.
I hear the whisperings of many: “Terror on every side! Denounce! let us denounce him!”
I don’t think there is anyone who can comfortably continue to say unpopular things while his or her own peers are rolling their eyes, and agreeing among themselves that some people are just not evolved enough to understand the more mature way of looking at things.
And how much more wrenching for a young man, living in an honor and shame culture. He suspects that his “friends” are talking about him behind his back:
All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine. ‘Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail, and take our vengeance on him.’
Why couldn’t he relax and enjoy the soothing comforts of the palace prophets, on the payroll to keep the populace from panicking about the rumblings coming from Babylon?
He was a vexation, with his frightening predictions of Nebuchadnezzar’s armies coming to destroy Jerusalem by fire, sword, and famine. No! said the false prophets. Nebuchadnezzar will soon lose interest in us and set his sights elsewhere! We are, after all, the Chosen People.
Jeremiah’s reply? If you are, indeed, the Chosen People, then stop worshiping idols, stop burning your children in sacrifice, and return to your original covenant with God.
But the strong pull of culture held sway. Jeremiah lived, the kings and most of the populace died. Have mercy on us, Lord.
What would Jeremiah say to us today?
Kathy McGovern ©2023