The Old Testament Book of the Prophet Jeremiah is best described as sustained lament. The Israelites have preferred dark deeds to the Light of God, serving false gods, and abandoning the covenants that God had established with their ancestors. As such, they stand on a precipice that leads only to disaster. A terrifying cataclysm is about to overtake the Israelites- the prophet Jeremiah foresees this catastrophe, warns the Israelites of the impending wrath to come- but alas! The prophet’s warnings come to naught!
In 587 BC the armies of Babylon invade the land of the Israelites and the once mighty Kingdom of David is wiped off the face of the earth. Rather than change, the people were in the pride of their refusals utterly ruined.
The warnings of the Prophet Jeremiah were not well received by the Israelites. He was accused of fomenting unrest, exacerbating an already tense political situation, meddling in affairs of state, not working with the appropriate religious authorities, and just being plain difficult and negative. He was publically humiliated and eventually killed- by the very people he loved and had sought to save.
As such, Jeremiah is identified by the great saints and sages of the Church as being very much like Christ, who out of love for his people speaks difficult truths that they do not want to hear- and as a result, suffers humiliation and death, like Jeremiah, by the very people he loved and had come to save. The lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah are recalled during Lent and Holy Week because the words of the prophet so eloquently express the sorrow of Christ as he endures his suffering and death.
The words of Jeremiah are marked as important and remembered by the Church because they foreshadow our own refusal of Christ.
The refusal of Christ is not just something that some people did long ago and in a far away place, but it exists in each and every one of us. We are not to look at the image of the Crucified Savior or listen to the accounts of his suffering and death and think that blame can be assigned for what he see and hear to anyone but ourselves. The revelation of the Cross anticipates all our refusals of Christ, our stubborn unwillingness to love what Christ loves and serve what Christ serves. The shadow of the Cross is cast over our pain-filled unwillingness to forgive.
Once, the lamentations of Jeremiah called the Israelites to conversion and repentance, and now, those lamentations call to us and beg of us the conversion and repentance that it is the only way out of darkness of our refusals of Christ.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation has been given to us by Christ to make our conversion and repentance a concrete reality rather than just an idea or feeling.
Great divisions overtake the leaders of the Israelites in regards to the claims that the Lord Jesus is the Christ. “Christ” means “the anointed one”, a reference to the kings of Israel, and as such, there is fear that the Lord Jesus may be the promised Messiah, a person of extraordinary power that God would send into the world to restore the Kingdom of David.
The Lord Jesus has been saying and doing things that indicate that he is the Christ, and if this worries the leaders of the Israelites because if he proves himself to be the Christ their lives will have to change.
Change is difficult and exposes us to what is risky and unknown. As such, many people would rather be ruined than changed- but this is not what God in Christ wants. God in Christ prefers that we be changed rather than ruined.
The change that Christ asks of us is not change for its own sake or change for the sake of keeping up with the times. The change Christ asks of us is the change that happens when we give our lives over to Christ as a gift.
Giving our lives over to Jesus Christ as a gift is what being a disciple is all about. Once you do this, Jesus Christ responds by giving you a mission, and it is from the gift of self to the Lord Jesus and accepting the mission he assigns to you that gives your life meaning and purpose.
The reception of the Eucharist is meant to be an expression of your willingness to give your life over to Jesus Christ. When you receive the Eucharist you ratify a marvelous exchange in which God in Christ gives his divine life over to you and you in return give your life to him.
Give your life over to Christ: this is the change that Christ the Lord invites us to accept, the change that rescues us from being ruined by our refusals of God; the change that imparts meaning and purpose to our lives.
The change by which you make your life right now a gift to Jesus Christ.