Saturday of week 4 of Lent – First Reading

Commentary on Jeremiah 11:18-20

Jeremiah, as a prophet of God, is the target of vicious conspiracies which want to wipe him out.

In 622 BC, King Josiah of Judah undertook a religious reform (described in 2 Kings 22) after the Book of the Law was discovered, having lain hidden for years. It seems that Jeremiah took an active role in the reform. By championing the reform, which included the suppression of local shrines, Jeremiah incurred the hatred of his fellow citizens, the people of Anathoth.

It is then that he compares himself to a “trustful lamb being led to the slaughterhouse”. A phrase which will later be applied to Jesus as he is led to his execution. For Jeremiah’s enemies are plotting to get rid of him, “Let us destroy this tree in its strength, let us cut him from the land of the living, so that his name may no longer be remembered!” Jeremiah had no children so, in the eyes of his enemies, that would be the end of him forever.

But they were ironic words because, as in the case of so many martyrs in the cause of right, his name is all the more remembered after his enemies tried to blot him out of existence. And Jeremiah knows that too: “I shall see your vengeance on them, for I have revealed my cause to you.”

Ultimately God is Jeremiah’s only protection against his enemies. But God will see that ultimately truth and justice prevail. And, of course, this is true most of all of Jesus. “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Ps 118:22). That is what we reflect on and celebrate as we watch Jesus go through his Passion in the coming days.

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