Wednesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Jeremiah 1:1.4-10; Matthew 13:1-9)
No one in the Old Testament reveals more of himself than the prophet Jeremiah. In the reading today we hear how he reluctantly answers the call to speak in God’s name. In another autobiographical passage of his book, he will lament this vocation because it costs his peace of mind. This is the case when God tells him that he cannot marry as a sign of the barrenness that the sins of the people have wrought. But what can Jeremiah do but accede to God’s command? As he admits, God’s name burns within his heart.
Although prediction of the future authenticates their standing, prophets first and foremost are God’s spokespersons. Their main function is to point out to the people when and how they swerve from righteousness. They demonstrate outrage when the people’s wandering always leads them to idols, be they craven images or illusory values. In our time Pope John Paul II showed himself to be a prophet when he spoke out regarding radical individualism leading people from solidarity with the poor to excessive consumption.
Although prophets are more famous for indicating the impending wrath of God, they also convey God’s tender love. Jeremiah will tell us that God has a new covenant or relationship for His people in mind which will be written not in stone but on their hearts so that they will easily keep it. When this happens, he will say, the Lord will be the people’s only God and they will be forever His. This prophesy is fulfilled, of course, in Jesus Christ. As Paul tells the Romans, Christ’s death has led to “the love of God (being) been poured into our hearts through the holy Spirit.”