Memory of the Church

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jeremiah 4, 1-15

'If you come back, Israel, Yahweh declares, if you come back to me, if you take your Horrors out of my sight, if you go roving no more,

if you swear, "As Yahweh lives!" truthfully, justly, uprightly, then the nations will bless themselves by him and glory in him.

'For Yahweh says this to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, "Clear the ground that lies neglected, do not sow among thorns.

Circumcise yourselves for Yahweh, apply circumcision to your hearts, men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or my wrath will leap out like a fire and burn with no one to quench it, in return for the wickedness of your deeds." '

Announce it in Judah, proclaim it in Jerusalem, say, 'Sound the trumpet in the countryside, shout the message aloud: Mobilise! Take to the fortified towns!

Signpost the way to Zion! Run! Do not delay! For I am bringing disaster from the north, an immense calamity.

The lion is up from his thicket, the destroyer of nations is on his way, he has come from his home to reduce your land to a desert; your towns will be in ruins, uninhabited.

So wrap yourselves in sackcloth, lament and wail, since Yahweh's burning anger has not turned away from us.

'That day,' Yahweh declares, 'the king's heart will fail him, the princes' hearts will fail them too, the priests will stand aghast, the prophets stupefied.'

Then I said, 'Ah, Lord Yahweh, how sadly you deceived this people and Jerusalem when you used to say, "You will have peace," whereas the sword is now at our throats!

When that time comes, this will be said to this people and to Jerusalem: The scorching wind from the desert heights comes towards the daughter of my people -and not to winnow or to cleanse!

A gale of wind comes to me from over there. Now I myself shall pass sentence on them!'

Look, he is advancing like the clouds, his chariots like a hurricane, his horses swifter than eagles. Disaster for us! We are lost!

Wash your heart clean of wickedness, Jerusalem, and so be saved. How long will you go on harbouring your pernicious thoughts?

For a voice from Dan shouts the news, proclaims disaster from the highlands of Ephraim.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jeremiah is speaking to Jerusalem at a difficult time, probably during a war or when war threatens. What can we do in difficult times? The prophet’s answer seems inadequate before the danger. Jeremiah invites his people to return to the Lord: “If you return, O Israel, says the Lord, if you return to me.” In the language of the Old Testament, “to return” means to “convert”, to change one’s heart, mind, and actions, as the prophet says later, “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, remove the foreskin of your hearts.” In times of danger and crisis - we can think of the difficult times the entire world is living in today - we cannot look for answers that are only material or superficial. We need to go into the depths, to look inside ourselves, in our hearts, and change something about ourselves, as the Word of God is constantly asking us to do. Physical circumcision calls for cutting. In the same way, to circumcise our heart we must cut away the part of us that distances us from the Lord and from our neighbour. It will not be by complaining or blaming other people for all the things that are going wrong that we will improve the situation: “Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns,” the prophet urges. Everyone must make a personal commitment to break up the soil of his or her heart, pulling up everything that keeps God from being present and filling it with good feelings and thoughts. In everyday life it is easy and almost instinctive to “sow among thorns,” that is, to spread evil. In difficult times courage fails, resignation becomes easier, and every one becomes more wicked, more individualistic, and less concerned for others, “On that day...courage shall fail the king and the officials. The priests shall be appalled and the prophets astounded.” The word of God invites us not to give in to the logic of our instincts, which teach us to only worry about ourselves and to wrap ourselves up in our own concerns, ready to defend ourselves against everyone. “O Jerusalem, wash your heart clean of wickedness so that you may be saved. How long shall your evil schemes lodge within you?” urges the Lord. We must constantly wash our hearts clean by listening to the Word of the Lord.