Our first reading contains a lengthy quotation from Chapter 31 of the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, and we might use this an excuse for looking back on the unusual career of Jeremiah.
In 650 B.C. Jeremiah was born of a family with rich lands near Jerusalem, and he had always longed for an easy life of chatting with other well-to-do men.
But God had other plans. He called on Jeremiah before he was twenty, and Jeremiah said, “I know not how to speak. I am too young” but God touched Jeremiah’s lips, putting his words into the reluctant young man’s mouth.
The people remembered how God had promised David that his house and his kingdom would last forever. To remind themselves of how God had promised to care for them even when they led lived of sinfulness; the people each day, as they passed by the temple, would knock three times on its door, repeating the formula, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.”
God told Jeremiah to take his stand at the temple door, telling everyone God was displeased with them. And this turned the people into loathing Jeremiah. Hating his isolation, Jeremiah complained, “You duped me Lord, and I let myself be duped. All the day I am an object of laughter. Everyone mocks me. I say to myself I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning I my heart. I grow weary holding it in.”
The Lord had Jeremiah tell the people that if they did not release their slaves, and turn their lives around they would be slaves in Babylon for seventy years.
Detesting Jeremiah for his warnings, the people dropped him into a cistern where he sunk waste deep into the bud. Leaving him open to the spittle of passers by.
After that, the people were all carried away to Babylon. And Jeremiah, left in the ruins of Jerusalem, filled page after page in the Book of Lamentations with his groaning.