Fr. Michael's Thoughts on Biblical Imagery: The Jeremiah Lane

FR MICHAEL BIBLICAL IMAGERY

(Fr Michael Boakye Yeboah: Vice Rector of St Gregory Seminary, Kumasi-Ghana)

THE JEREMIAH LANE

                                                                                                                

            Many priests, religious and lay Catholics walk on “the Jeremiah lane”. What is “the Jeremiah lane”? I coined this phrase for my ministry as a formator. It is a lane of prophetic boldness and holiness of life. This is a lane that no matter the loneliness of it, it is the lane that God invites his followers to walk with him – isn’t this a great privilege? “The Jeremiah lane” is the path of justice and righteousness that God calls one to embrace. Though many know that God walks on this lane, the choice of it is not popular. In fact, Jeremiah himself initially disliked the idea of being called on this lane to be a prophet and he is believed to have cursed the young man who ran to his dad to let him know that a son had been born to him (Cf. Jer. 20:15). For Jeremiah, to be called to walk on this “lane” of persecution and hatred from the masses, it would have been better if he was not born. Little did Jeremiah know that for some people even before they were born, they were destined to be on this “lane”; for the Lord told him that before he was born He choose him and consecrated him to be a prophet for the nations (cf. Jer. 1:5).

            The lane is not famous and popular in the eyes of many people, in fact many people reject it as the false way. But for you and I, it is the privileged “lane” of God’s children. No matter the presumed happiness on worldly “lanes”, we will always prefer “the Jeremiah lane” because it leads to eternal life. “The Jeremiah lane” calls to mind the two ways the Lord once told his disciples about: the first one being the narrow way that finds few people on it and the broad way that is populated with men of the world. Here, majority does not right the choice, because the mere fact that many people are found on the broad way does not make it a good way. The first way which is narrow is the way the Lord recommends for all his followers and that way can be likened to “the Jeremiah way.”

            Jeremiah prophesied in Judah during the reigns of Josiah and succeeding kings, living to see the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian exile. It was a period of storm and stress throughout the entire world. After Josiah’s reign, Jeremiah was often in danger from political and religious leaders in Judah who were angry because of his messages. Through all this, God protected Jeremiah so he could continue to warn the wicked and comfort those who trust in God.

            During the reign of all the kings, Jeremiah received all kinds of threats but for the first time we are told some people planned to kill him. These people had gone to King Zedekiah spreading lies against Jeremiah so that the king will give them the chance to execute their evil plans. Their accusation was: “Jeremiah ought to be put to death; he is demoralizing the soldiers who are left in this city…” The welfare of soldiers is central to every monarchial rule and so the king gave in to the lies of Jeremiah’s accusers. These evil men may have had their way but we should note that as the devil send his evil agents to destroy the righteous God always send his Angels to rescue his own.

            After Jeremiah was thrown into the cistern to die, some people went to the king and pleaded for the life of Jeremiah. The Psalmist is right in today’s responsorial Psalm when he intoned “…I have waited, waited for the Lord, and he stoop towards me…the Lord heard my cry. He drew me out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud of the swamp…” We should note that God will not only come to our rescue when evil people try to push us down to kill us but he will bless our hearts with a new song. Isn’t it heartwarming when the Psalmist concluded today’s responsorial psalm with: “And he put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God. Many shall look on in awe and trust in the Lord.” How hopeful is the words of the Psalmist: “Though I am afflicted and poor, yet the Lord thinks of me. You are my help and my deliverer…” I would like to encourage anyone going through difficulties not to give up because as God sent his angels to rescue Jeremiah so also, he will intervene in your case.

            When we are going through difficulties we should look back and reflect on how God intervened in the lives of others with his salvific hands. Our stories are not unique; where you are, others have been there and God saved them. Those salvific stories should fuel our lives with purpose and hope. Let us reflect on the wise words in today’s second reading: “Brothers and sisters: since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus…” No matter the plans of the evil one, those who fix their eyes on Jesus will always be saved.

            The fixation of our lives on Jesus is not defined by blood lines of a family but by one’s faith commitment to Jesus. In today’s gospel reading, Jesus warns that no matter the bond of family ties, his message will divide the family between those who belong to him and those who are not with him. No matter the love for family, we should never choose love of family over love of Jesus. Remember, the broad way does not lead to life but the narrow way does. On “the Jeremiah lane” persecution and suffering may come your way but you will have the last laugh in the end. Christianity is not a brand name like a commercial product, it is a way of life. OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP PRAY FOR US.

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