Aug. 28 – Sept. 3
Jeremiah 2: 4 – 13
The Lord, reports the prophet, is angry with the people. After all the good things he has done for them, they wander away from him. Historians say that apostasy was the major sin of the Jewish tribes before the Exile to Babylon, but the prophets who come after seldom mention it. The passage was written in verse and appears as verse in the New Revised Standard Version. Some good poetry here. Look at that final metaphor: God is spoken of as living water, suggesting a bubbling and babbling stream; the false gods are spoken of as leaking, drying cisterns. Cisterns were often vast underground basins approached through tunneled stairs. In that desert world, the loss of their water could be disastrous.
ALTERNATIVE FIRST READING
Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 10: 12 – 18
This prophet follows a long tradition that sin begins in pride. There are various definitions of pride. One is acting as though one were God. Others, less stringent, define pride as the lifting of oneself to heights to which one has no right or claim. The prophet believes God will punish both the proud king and the proud commoner. I don’t understand the last sentence of our reading. If pride and violent anger were not created for human beings, for whom were they created?
Hebrews 13: 1 – 8
This admonition to lead a Christian life needs little explanation. We understand these ancient traditional values, thought to the original listeners, they may have been new and sometimes quite surprising. The quoted lines are from Psalm 118. I am puzzled by the final line of our reading, which speaks of the unchangeable nature of Jesus. As theology the idea may be right, but the drama that captures our imagination is that of Jesus the condemned criminal dying shamefully on the cross and then rising transformed and glorious, Christ the King.
©Arthur H. Cash