In the first reading, Jeremiah is commissioned by God to deliver a message that must have rocked them to the depths. God declared that their wound, their sin, was incurable. They were stuck in a rut, in sinful habits or patterns. Their sins have piled up and crushed them.
However, after delivering the bad news, Jeremiah gives them some very good news. God will rebuild and restore the children of Israel. Songs of praise and happy laughter will fill their homes again. Toward the end of the reading we hear an amazing message: “You shall be my people, and I will be your God.” The old conditional language of the Torah has been amended. God no longer says “if” you will be my people. The children of Israel are God’s people.
This statement which Jeremiah and the later prophets proclaim often is one of the foundational statements of Christianity. Unconditional love is now the only way to relate to God. God will not withdraw from the people or fail to love them. The notion that the people will be rewarded if they embrace God’s Law and punished if they fail to obey is withdrawn, and we are assured, in the words of St. Paul, that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Placing our faith in that love is sometimes difficult. Right now we, like the apostles in today’s Gospel reading, find ourselves in stormy waters – both literally and figuratively. The east coast is being pounded by a hurricane, and our entire country is in the grips of a virus. The CDC issued a statement yesterday saying that there probably won’t be any “silver bullet” in our quest to eradicate this virus. The Gospel asks us to fix our eyes on Jesus and remember that God lives with us. When Peter began to worry about the storm rather than keeping his eyes on Jesus, he began to sink. So with faith, we learn from his mistake and place our faith and our trust in God’s love. Lord will build us up again, and will appear in glory.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator