Thursday of the Second Week of Lent
(Jeremiah 17:5-10; Luke 16:19-31)
Thomas Oden, an American theologian, recently published his autobiography. A reviewer says that Oden has known just about everybody who was anybody in theology for the last sixty years. Yet, the commentator goes on, Oden never mentions these historic figures like Karol Wojtjyla, our St. John Paul II, to promote himself. Rather the memoir is a testimony to Oden’s humility. As a young man following the theological currents of his time, Oden was told that he needed to relearn his theological roots. He did that with the result that he no longer trusted so much in often quoted contemporary thinkers. Rather he trusted more the gospel as it was interpreted by the Fathers of the Church. The advice that Thomas Oden received is close to that which we hear in today’s reading from Jeremiah.
Jeremiah prophesied in a time of crisis for the kingdom of Judah. The nation was made subject to the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. When King Zedekiah of Judah tried to forge alliances to free itself from hegemony, Jeremiah warned that there was no hope in men. He was ridiculed and almost murdered for speaking the truth revealed to him by God. The insurrection failed, and Nebuchadnezzar came to destroy Jerusalem. Jeremiah was vindicated at least for his message to place hope in God, not in human beings.
We too are well advised to trust in God. Although some men and women merit a measure of hope, they should never cause us to divert our foremost attention from God. Today’s gospel warns us not to put our stock in pleasure either. No, first and foremost we show our hope in God by taking care of the poor as He constantly exhorts us.