We have three extremely dramatic readings today, with each of them encouraging us to submit to debasement when our service of God calls for it.
In the first reading Jeremiah had enraged the wealthy citizens of Jerusalem by telling them that their sinful living was leading to their destruction. To shut him up, they dropped him into a cistern from which the water had been removed, leaving a depth of soft mud. Sunk to the waist Jeremiah had to endure the taunts if idle passersby. Jeremiah’s great personal dignity made his misery immense.
The second reading is from The Letter To The Hebrews. It follows on two chapters of bios of Old Testament heroes who suffered torments for their fidelity to God. It goes on, then, to say that we “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” should run with patience to the fight set before us. It goes on to say that if those Old Testament heroes don’t stir us, we should look instead at the courageous example of Christ, who for the joy set before him “endured the cross, despising shame.”
This passage from Hebrews is a real pep talk. It goes on to tell us to straighten up our shaking knees. It tells us to run with patience to the fight set before us.