Posts Tagged ‘Jeremiah 7’

Acts 24: Listening to the Voice Within

Friday, May 17, 2019

Paul Before Felix

As we journey with Paul we find that he overcomes huge obstacles by relying on God.  Today and tomorrow we spend some time reflecting on what we might learn about ourselves when we quiet our minds and hearts to listen to God’s voice within.  Written on February 28, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

The charges against Paul are connived and false.  The people who hate him collude to find a means to his end.  They want to silence him.  They want him to go away.  The best charge which they can hang on him is like the one which spelled Jesus’ doom: the charge of treason against Caesar, the charge that he is trying to establish another kingdom . . . and in this his accusers are correct. This is the paradox of the Gospel and Letters.  This is the redeeming grace of the New Testament story.  We are saved by Jesus and these early apostles and disciples, men and women who saw, understood, and would not be swayed.  They stood up to power, to structure, to corruption, to anything that was anti-Jesus.  They were affirmed in these convictions by the Resurrected Christ, and so are we today.

The readings today for Morning Prayer and Mass are about our human tendency to be stiff-necked and thick-brained.  How can we say we are for Jesus when we act against him?  The readings are also about knowing how to live . . . by listening to the Voice Within.

This is the nation that does not listen to the voice of the Lord, its God.  (The Prophet Jeremiah in Chapter 7)

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.  (The Holy Spirit in Psalm 95)

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.  (Jesus in Matthew Chapter 11)

Children stop their ears to keep from hearing bad news: an angry parent, an unwelcome order, an unpleasant prohibition.  As adults, we sometimes stop the ears of our heart to keep from hearing God’s voice, lest there too we hear bad news, only to discover that we have shut out the good news of his incredible love for us.  (MAGNIFICAT, Feb 2008, page 390.)

The mystery of God’s voice is that we hear and understand God best through the diverse voices of Yahweh’s people.  When we are open to the diverse others whom God created, we develop our capacity to hear the inner voice, the Voice Within.

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live in unity!  (Psalm 133:1)  Unity is the work of God, wrought in Jesus Christ.  Division is the work of evil.  During Lent, let us examine our own contributions to the unity that gives peace or the division that sows suffering in the world around us.  (MAGNIFICAT, page 397.)

The temptation to turn ourselves into gods . . . presupposes that we perceive God essentially as a power capable of coercing us by crushing our autonomy.  (Fr. Maurice Zundel, MAGNIFICAT Feb 2008 Meditation, page 396.)

Today we read about Paul and Felix, two players in God’s plan as the church of Christ beings to flourish.  We see power that wishes to crush.  We also see power that hesitates . . . because hearts are softened when they listen to the Voice Within.  In today’s reading, we also see opportunities seized . . . and opportunities left to drift in passive aggression.  We see captivity.  We see freedom.  As we read this story today, we might well find our own place in the drama.  Are we Paul?  Are we Felix?  Are we Ananais?  Are we Drusilla?  Are we Porcius Festus?  Do we go to God in union with others?  Do we create division either by an overt act of commission . . . or a covert act of omission?  Do we join?  Do we bridge?  Do we unite?  Do we give?  Do we love?

Let us spend a bit time this evening to reflect on these questions . . . and to listen for the Voice Within.

A re-post from May 2, 2012.

Image from: http://crystalmarylindsey.blogspot.com/2011/12/do-you-see-world-with-eye-blinders.html

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 28 February 2008: 396-397. Print.

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Jeremiah 19: The Potter’s Flask

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Written on February 3 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

It will make their ears tingle when they hear about the bloodshed of the innocent!  The Valley of Ben-hinnom will become the Valley of Slaughter.  The city will be an object of amazement and derision.  Passers-by will catch their breath at the wounds they see.  And a flask will be shattered like the lives of these people.  There will be so much death that there will be no place for burial.  This because they have stiffened their necks and have not obeyed my words. 

Jeremiah has visited Topheth, a town whose name could be pronounced with the vowels of the Hebrew word for shame.  “This was due to the practice of there of sacrificing children as burnt offerings to Baal and Molech in the times of Isaiah and Jeremiah (Isa. 30:33;  Jer. 7:31, 32; 19:6, 11-14; cf. 32:35).  Kings Ahaz and Manasseh of Judah are reported to have offered their sons in the Valley of Hinnom (2 Chron. 28:3; 33:6; cf. 2 Kings 16:3; 21:6).  King Josiah attempted to put a stop to the practice by defiling the altar of Topheth (2 Kings 23:10) but it was revived after his death”.  (Achetemier 1162)

When Jeremiah returns to Jerusalem and denounces not only this practice but the corruption in Jerusalem as well,  he is beaten and placed in stocks by orders of a temple priest and administrator, Pashhur.  “The prophet’s response was to rename the priest ‘Terror on every side’ (v. 3; cf. 6:25, where this phrase describes the people’s response to an invasion from the north, and 20:10, where is describes Jeremiah’s response to his enemies’ actions).  This name symbolizes the fact that Pashhur will be a ‘terror’ both to himself and to his friends: they and the whole land will suffer death, plundering and exile at the hands of the Babylonians (vv. 4-6).  The assertion that Pashhur has misled his friends (v. 6b) is the key to his condemnation.  His reaction to Jeremiah’s message was based on a partisan political position, supported, of course, by an appropriate religious ideology.  From his own standpoint Jeremiah was convinced that this position would lead to disaster”.  (HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY, 561)

This is grime reading and yet it is the kind of persecution that takes place constantly in our world.  Sometimes is happens an ocean away . . . today I am thinking of the people of Egypt.  It also happens right under our noses . . . today I also think about someone dear to me who is persecuted for speaking up.  No matter when this kind of harassment takes place, the effect the bully wishes to create – silence – is void, and in time an opposite result occurs – the truth always comes out in the end. 

My parents continually reminded all five of us that this is one of the surest things we can count on and we read it here in Jeremiah.  This prophet was eventually taken away to Egypt by Jewish authorities who fled before the waves of invaders from the north.  His prophecy unfolds before their eyes, and still they revile him.  In the end, although there is no written evidence of this, Jeremiah is murdered in exile.

The sins in Topheth and the crimes of Pashhur continue today, but we must not allow this fact to sap us of our courage or energy.  We must remind ourselves and one another that the truth always comes out in the end.  So what are we called to do?  We must learn to faithfully witness to these crimes, to humbly pray for ourselves and our enemies, and to joyfully participate in the redemptive love that sets all injustice right in God’s time and in God’s way, lest we too be shattered like the potter’s flask . . .  beyond repair.

A re-post from September 15, 2011.

Achetemeier, Paul J. HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE DICTIONARY. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996. 1162. Print. 

Image from: http://pottery.about.com/od/stepbystepprojects/ig/Mug-Project-Photo-Gallery/Pottery-Flask.htm

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