Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jeremiah 21, 1-14

The word that came to Jeremiah from Yahweh when King Zedekiah sent Pashhur son of Malchiah to him, with the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, to say this,

'Please consult Yahweh for us, since Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is making war on us: perhaps Yahweh will work one of his many miracles for us and force him to withdraw.'

Jeremiah said to them, 'Take this answer to Zedekiah,

"Yahweh, God of Israel, says this: I shall bring back the weapons of war which you are now carrying, and with which you are fighting the king of Babylon and the Chaldaeans now besieging you; from outside the walls, I shall stack them in the centre of this city.

And I shall fight against you myself with outstretched hand and mighty arm, in anger, fury and great wrath.

I shall strike down the inhabitants of this city, human and animal; they will die of a great plague.

Then, Yahweh declares, I shall deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials, the people and those of this city who have escaped the plague, the sword, or the famine, into the clutches of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, into the clutches of their enemies and into the clutches of those determined to kill them; mercilessly, relentlessly, pitilessly, he will put them to the sword."

'And you must say to this people, "Yahweh says this: Look, I offer you a choice between the way of life and the way of death.

Anyone who stays in this city will die by sword, by famine, or by plague; but anyone who leaves it and surrenders to the Chaldaeans now besieging you will live; he will escape with his life.

For I am determined on disaster, and not prosperity, for this city, Yahweh declares. It will be handed over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down." '

To the royal House of Judah. Listen to the word of Yahweh,

House of David! Yahweh says this: Each morning give fair judgement, rescue anyone who has been wronged from the hands of his oppressor, or else my wrath will leap out like a fire, it will burn and no one will be able to quench it, because of the wickedness of your actions.

My quarrel is with you, resident of the valley, Rock-in-the-Plain, Yahweh declares, with you that say, 'Who would dare attack us and enter our lairs?'

I shall punish you as your actions deserve, Yahweh declares, I shall set fire to its forest and it will devour all around it.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The king sends men to ask Jeremiah to consult the Lord about the future of his people. We are in a difficult time: Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the rising power of the time, Babylon, is about to conquer Jerusalem. What can the people do? Surrender to the invader or resist with war? Jeremiah’s position is clear. He repeatedly calls on the king and the people to surrender to the Babylonians and avoid a war that they could not win. This is not the attitude of a yielding man who gives in to the violence of a people as strong and as unscrupulous as the Babylonians. Jeremiah knows that it is useless to resist; indeed, resistance will only worsen the tragic consequences of war. The prophet’s position is not shared by any one else, as is seen in other texts. Consequently, people will oppose him to the end. Even in this difficult situation, however, the prophet is not just interested in the political future of his people, he continues to speak in defence of justice: “Hear the word of the Lord! O house of David! Thus says the Lord: Execute justice in the morning, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed.” The words of the prophets, from Amos to Malachi, always call for justice, especially for the poor. Peace and justice must meet in our personal and public life, as the Psalmist says: “Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky (Ps 85:11-12). We too often speak of them as if they were in opposition. Christians are called to live out these words everywhere, without being ideological, but by learning to be “peacemakers,” as Jesus teaches in the Beatitudes. Our desire for peace will help us do justice that intersects with love, the fulfilment of which is truth. In a world that seems to tolerate and even justify war as an agent of justice, the word of God warns us to keep working for a justice that is never separated from the commitment for peace.