Soften Your Heart
Today’s homily discusses the challenges of preaching when no one is listening. Going Behind the Word explores the life of the prophet Jeremiah more deeply.
Going Behind the Word
A prophet is one chosen by God to deliver a message. While common understanding is that a prophet is one who predicts the future, that is not true, at least not as the primary purpose of a prophet. A prophet’s primary role is to seek the conversion of people who have strayed from the path of God.
Soften your heart. Jeremiah was one of the major prophets. He is known as the “weeping prophet” as he was one who wore his emotions on his sleeve. He was very disheartened by the reluctance of the people to turn their hearts to God. And this refusal made what was already a chaotic and difficult situation even worse.
Before Jeremiah was on the scene, the northern and southern kingdoms split. The Son of Solomon, and King David’s grandson, Rehoboam, was not a very good king, and the northern kingdom was rebelling against his bad rule.
Rehoboam Started Badly and God Worse
His rule was bad from the start. Rather than accept the advice of wiser, more experienced counsel, who advised him to listen to the tribes in the north, Rehoboam took the advice of his friends and taxed the people even more heavily.
The end result was a terrible schism which was never healed. All this despite repeated warnings to the people of both the north and the south by many prophets, including Jeremiah. While there are many examples of the tremendous holiness of Jeremiah, for me the primary characteristic of Jeremiah is his loyalty.
Loyalty Because of His Love
He stayed with the people to whom he was sent until the very end, even being exiled to Egypt. That meant the people he was with were the most fragile and fragile of all those who were being exiled. So great was his heart with love for the people, and so much did his heart burn with the Word of God he simply became compelled over and over again to proclaim it.
He was a man filled with passion, for God, His word, and the people to whom he was sent. He serves as a challenge for us and should inspire us to ask ourselves in what ways we are loyal to God, His word, and the people to whom God sends us. God calls each of us to be passionate about sharing His word with all we meet and know.
The reality is that any example of loyalty to God and to His word is something that can really help us by reminding us about our own vocation to be loyal to God and His Word. Too often I know I can find myself in a situation where I am not as faithful and loyal as I should be.
The Encouraging Love of God
But just as Jeremiah was, I am encouraged by the powerful love of God. His example of allowing the word of God to touch his heart, and as important, his desire to share the message God gave him is wonderful indeed.
This also serves as a reminder that even our best efforts are only possible with God’s grace. Even if our attempts at sharing the word of God are exactly as God wants it to be, it can still be the case that people do not always hear or accept the word.