I hear so many disparaging me,
‘“Terror from every side!”
Denounce him! Let us denounce him!’
All those who used to be my friends
watched for my downfall,
‘Perhaps he will be seduced into error.
Then we will master him
and take our revenge!’
But the Lord is at my side, a mighty hero;
my opponents will stumble, mastered,
confounded by their failure;
everlasting, unforgettable disgrace will be theirs.
But you, O Lord of Hosts, you who probe with justice,
who scrutinise the loins and heart,
let me see the vengeance you will take on them,
for I have committed my cause to you.
Sing to the Lord,
praise the Lord,
for he has delivered the soul of the needy
from the hands of evil men.
Many of us hearing the above reading, the first for Mass, yesterday, the 12th Sunday of the Year, will have wanted to transpose it to a spiritual/abstract pitch. For though we may know disparagement and insult, many (most?) of us will not experience to the intense level that Jeremiah did.
Yet to drain the reading of its particularity, and the violence and threat of violence of its direct and bruising quality, can neuter the text and remove its force and potency.
There are many in our world who do face such threats, such persecution, whose lives are indeed at risk – and who remain steadfast in faith, powerful witnesses to the reality of God and his gift and promise of life.
As we learn from them, and give thanks to God for them, let us also pray with them, and seek to come to their aid in what ways we can…
Refugee City, Lebanon (?), 2015