Thursday of Week 2 of Lent – First Reading

Commentary on Jeremiah 17:5-10

The theme of today’s Mass concerns priorities and about our responsibilities to those around us. It deals with Cain’s question: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” and the story of Lazarus and the poor man.

In the First Reading, Jeremiah makes a strong contrast between two kinds of people:

  • the one who thinks he is self-sufficient, is immersed in the material world and ignores the place of God in his life. He feels he “has it made”; and
  • the one who puts all his trust in God and in the way of life that God suggests.
  • The first man’s life is basically arid and empty:

    He is like dry scrub in the wastelands.

    He has no eye for what is really good. Surrounded by his luxuries and pleasures, he unwittingly lives in a desert. He measures his life by what he has – not by what he himself is, and even less by what he is in his relationship with others.

    The second man is:

    …like a tree by the waterside that thrusts its roots to the stream; when the heat comes it feels no alarm, its foliage stays green; it has no worries in a year of drought, and never ceases to bear fruit.

    Such a person may lead a life of great material simplicity, but is in touch with a deeper source of wealth, God’s truth, wisdom and love.

    Finally, there is the warning about man’s gift for self-deception. Verse 11, not quoted for some reason in today’s reading, is very appropriate:

    A partridge that mothers a brood not her own is the man who acquires wealth unjustly. In midlife it will desert him; in the end he is only a fool.

    You can’t take it with you and, while you have it, you need to share it with those who are genuinely deprived. This is clearly the message of today’s Gospel as well.

    It is very easy to be persuaded that happiness lies in having things, having status, having power. But God is not interested in things that impress externally; he only judges what goes on in the depths of the heart. Where do I stand in all this? Where do I put my trust? In what are my values?

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