Jeremiah’s poem comparing the one who trusts in the Lord and the one who trusts in other humans could have sprung from his own human relationships. King Zedekiah befriended him in private, but then plotted with those who sought to kill him. His own family turned against him. Towards the end of his life, he was exiled to Egypt where he was persecuted and died. Despite these betrayals, he sunk the roots of his faith in the promises that God had made to him and became one of the crucial figures in the history of Israel’s religion. His influence upon the popular devotion of the people turned out to be as profound as anyone else in Israel’s history. The book of the Prophet Jeremiah sustained Jesus in prayer and continues to be our source of strength. While Jeremiah considered himself useless, he was actually supporting a nation. His life experience may have been the inspiration for his thoughts in today’s reading.
Psalm 1 is used as the response to this reading and carries the same message as Jeremiah’s poem. This psalm is an important “forward” or “introduction” to the Book of Psalms. One hundred and fifty hymns, laments, poems and prayers all call upon us to trust in the covenant promises that God has made with us.
The familiar Gospel story of Lazarus, the poor beggar, puts an exclamation point on the notion that trusting in God is far better than trusting in humans. After death he finds himself in the bosom of Abraham where he will spend eternity, enjoying the promise of the covenant. Though the rich man raises his voice and begs for Abraham’s assistance, his prayer is as self-serving as his life had been.
Lent is a time of intense prayer. When our hearts are turned toward God and when we place our trust in God’s promises, we are that vibrant tree of which Jeremiah spoke. The living water that helps us grow and sustains us allows us to bear fruit that can be life-giving food for others, just as Jeremiah became a support for his people.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator