I have always been fascinated by the Prophet Jeremiah. I think that fascination comes from the fact that he was just a teenager when God called him to be a prophet. Josiah, a king who tried to bring reform to the kingdom, was supported by Josiah who met an early death on the battlefield of Megiddo. The kings who came after Josiah were not as zealous for the Lord.
So Jeremiah, while still a young man, found himself pitted against the corrupt king and his court. He warned of the impending doom that loomed for Israel, prophecy that angered those who tried to calm the fears of the people. The elders of Israel did not take kindly to the warnings that Jeremiah uttered against these older men.
In today’s first reading, we hear the plots of those who wished to be rid of Jeremiah. Rather than simply plotting his death, they contrived to kidnap him and throw him into a deep, empty cistern. He sank into the mud at the bottom of the well, but was rescued by some of the young people who were part of the royal court of Israel. The responsorial psalm for today’s liturgy can be read as Jeremiah’s prayer asking God to save him from the plots of the wicked.
Unlike any other prophet, Jeremiah serves as a mirror for the plight of Jesus. The elders of Israel plotted against Jesus just as their ancestors had plotted against Jeremiah. Jesus also can be heard to ask God to save him in the Garden the night before his passion and death. In the Gospel today, Jesus tells his disciples of the coming days in Jerusalem. He also uses the occasion to teach them that they are to serve rather than be served, that they too will be called upon to be obedient to God’s will.
The Lenten liturgies prepare us for the celebration of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Today the Scriptures prepare us for that celebration by reminding us that as disciples of Jesus, we too are to be known for our service of others.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator