Jeremiah 4:11-12. 22-28
Our reading opens with a dramatic metaphor. God speaks of his own voice as the sirocco, a dry wind from the dessert bringing suffocating heat into Judea, or so the prophet tells us. Then the prophet hears the voice of God lamenting the stupidity of his people. His report is followed by an awareness that God is returning the earth to a primary state, destroying the farmlands and cities. Then God speaks, but contradicts himself: “I will not make a full end,” yet “I have not relented nor will I turn back.” Probably the passage in which God declares he will not make a full end was added by some editor who didn’t like the idea of God’s fierce resolve.
ALTERNATIVE FIRST READING
Exodus 32:1, 7-14.
The events at Mount Sinai may not be historical, but some of its mythical and theological meanings are clear: God, in an act of divine grace, offers to make a great nation out of a band of escaped slaves, a nation ruled by his law, a nation in service to God that will eventually bring mankind to him. The people’s part is to acknowledge God’s authority and the justice of his law. The part of the myth we hear today shows the human side of the story–its weakness in the collapse of faith; its strength in the greatness of a leader who can assuage even God’s anger.
I Timothy 1:12-17.
Two letters to Timothy and one to Titus are called the “Pastoral Letters” because the author writes from a position approximating that of a bishop, giving instruction to two younger men, not parish pastors, but leaders of the church. Some scholars think they were not written by Paul because the style and some of the doctrines differ from Paul’s other letters, yet almost all scholars think that they contain passages taken from genuine Pauline letters that are now lost. I think our lesson is one of these.