WE pity poor Jeremiah in the First Reading. He had never wanted to be a prophet, but God insistently called on him to warn Jerusalem that their sins were going to bring them to ruin. He had wanted to lead a soft, gentlemanly life, drinking and chatting with other gentlemen, but God would not leave him alone. The sins of Jerusalem were about to bring them complete ruin, and God called on Jeremiah to warn them.
At times he resolved to speak for God no more, but then he found he could not keep God’s warnings bottled up inside him. He had to speak, and when he did, the people, weary of hearing his warnings, threw him down into a cistern where he sunk into the mud, and where he had to accept the insults and the spittle raining down on him.
None of us have it that bad, but then, few of us have achieved the kind of happy, fulfilling life we imagined for ourselves when we were young.We have had to take some hard knocks.
Let’s skip to the Second Reading. It’s from Chapter Twelve of the Letter to the Hebrews. The preceding chapter, Eleven, was an account of all that the Israelite heroes had put up with. In place of them we should call to mind all that our parents and teachers heroically put up with. Our reading refers to them as “a great cloud of witnesses.” Then, beyond them, it asks us to consider all that Jesus put up with.
We should memorize those first four verses of Chapter Twelve of Hebrews, making them our source of encouragement.
“Since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden of sin that clings to us, and persevere in running the race that lies before us . . . . .”