Even In The Worst Of Times

Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15  – The 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time – for September 29, 2013

“Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours…” (Jeremiah 32:7)

babylonian_empireHad the prophet Jeremiah scribed a memoir, it could’ve been entitled, In The Worst Of Times.

2,600 years ago, give or take a century, the power-hungry and land-greedy Babylonians attacked the Israelites. Jerusalem was besieged. The expansion of an empire would again wreck havoc with the “chosen people.” And did they wonder . . . chosen for what? Misery? Calamity? Insecurity? Being a doormat for the newest despot scheming to conquer more people and claim more property?

In Jeremiah’s time, the folks on the streets of Jerusalem might mumble about the greatness of the past. Remember King David! How ’bout that Exodus . . . that Moses sure was a humdinger! Or they might look at the present, and in the fine universal tradition of the ostrich, stick their heads in the sand of the “Promised Land” and think this present moment isn’t so bad. Maybe the Babylonians will get bored and brandish their weaponry elsewhere. Maybe God will smite the damn foreigners. Or maybe the fine citizens of Jerusalem will get used to being under siege and, as long as there’s bread to eat, water to drink and the trains run on time, today won’t be that bad.

Relive the past.

Rationalize the present.

How could any imagine a future . . . a future with hope, and without heartache, a future with dreams, and without dread? And so it would be—according to scripture—that Hanamel son of Jeremiah’s uncle Shallum would approach Jeremiah, currently held captive in the palace of the King of Judah, and the prophet would boldly buy . . .

Stop. Wait! I refuse to quickly reveal Jeremiah’s symbolic and optimistic gesture (which you could read for yourself, anyway). Continue reading →