The people of Israel were strongly knit together and possessed an exceptionally firm clan or tribal loyalty. In fact, this bond of blood dictated many of the customs and practices of the people, as we find in such important chapters for Israel’s sociology as in Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These chapters detail the obligations of the kinsperson, the most important relationship in the lives of these people.
Our theology of redemption comes out of this sociological perspective. The Hebrew word for redeemer is the same as the Hebrew word for kinsperson. Our Redeemer, Jesus, was one of us, a human being. He died for us so that we could become members of his Body, related to him through faith, adopted by His Father and made sons and daughters of the same family.
Today, our reading from the Prophet Jeremiah speaks of the hope of a reunion of all Israel and Judah, gathered under a single shepherd endowed with the human virtues of prudence and wisdom. It is in this passage that we also learn that the Israelites have come to accept the loss of the Ark of the Covenant. It had been destroyed during the onslaught of the Babylonian Empire. Jeremiah tells the people that with or without the Ark, Jerusalem remains the Lord’s throne. It is the Lord’s presence among the people that is truly important. The Ark was simply a symbol of that presence. God is still with them.
We know that the Lord is firmly and deeply present within our midst. Each day we gather in joy and peace to listen to God’s Word and to experience God’s presence in our midst through the Eucharist. With Jeremiah we pray that all nations will one day be gathered together to honor the name of the Lord and to experience the redemption that comes through Jesus, our kinsperson.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator