"Who do men say the Son of Man is?" And they replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
From this snippet of dialogue between Jesus and His Apostles we know that some, perhaps some of THEM, thought that He was a reincarnation of Jeremiah the Prophet who lived 600 years earlier.
One could hardly blame them. There were a number of interesting similarities. For example: Both were confirmed in Grace in their motherís womb. Both were hounded by their hometown citizens. Both had secret followers among otherwise hostile, influential officials. Both referred to The Temple as a den of thieves. But what might well be the most significant of all was the degree to which they both taught primarily by personal example.
Our first reading for today is taken from the collected teaching, comments and laments of this prophet as recorded by his faithful and inspired secretary, Baruch.
Being a prophet was not the same as being a fortune-teller. Even though, in rare moments, some of the prophets of the Old Testament seemed to be graced with a glimpse or two of the future, they were primarily teachers and very much grounded in the here and now as well as in their sacred traditions.
Jeremiah lived during a time of political turmoil, leadership scandals, rampant injustice and ethical and religious confusion. He is well qualified to be a significant model for our times. A model for all of us who are intent upon getting our priorities organized within the context of the struggle to discern what God wants of and for us.
Not what He wants in general terms. That, after all, is pretty straight forward. But what He wants in a very particular way ...here and now, in circumstances that are both confusing and conflicting.
It doesnít end there because the next step is to muster the courage to follow through, step by step, on that conscientiously and faithfully sought after road to wisdom and peace.
For all of us that road is usually long and arduous and just when we think that we are there, the circumstances of our life undergo a change and with that change comes a whole new set of challenges, challenges to be met with an uncertain and conflicted conscience, with faith and with doubt within the context of modern attitudes and ancient principles garnished with a wide spectrum of expert and anointed opinion.
Do not be discouraged!
Jesus IS the truth who gradually emerges along the way. He has also told us that He IS the way, the process.
This means that as long as we are praying, searching, analyzing, questioning, doubting and struggling even to the point reached by Jeremiah, of challenging God Himself ...Jesus remains with us, continues to identify with us; conflicted though we may be.
Learn from Jesus. Learn from His words but especially from His actions. Learn, as did Jeremiah, from your own interior struggles. For no matter how unproductive they appear to be in terms of their resolution and no matter how dark and perilous the valley within which they are encountered, the marvelous truth is that my struggles and your struggles bear the stamp of the Divine.