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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Introduction to Jeremiah[1]

Along with Isaiah and Ezekiel, Jeremiah's one of the "Major Prophets" of the Hebrew Bible: Jeremiah's the only one with a word named after him: jeremiad, meaning a long, mournful lament or angry harangue. God called Jeremiah to the prophecy biz when he was just a kid. Early on in his career, Jeremiah saw King Josiah try to get the Judeans back to observing the laws that God set down for them in Deuteronomy. That worked for a while, but pretty soon they went back to their sinful ways—idol worship, child sacrifice, eating bacon cheeseburgers, etc. God told Jeremiah what would happen (total destruction of Judea courtesy of the Babylonian army) and told him he had to warn the people to shape up or else. Jeremiah spent years prophesying the bad news to no avail. All he got for his trouble was rejection, imprisonment. For some reason, no one wanted to hear about invasion, slaughter, divine wrath, starvation, rape, and enslavement. The king wouldn't listen to his advice about surrendering to the Babylonians to save the nation. Jeremiah spent a lot of time weeping about this. So, just as he prophesied, the city of Jerusalem was invaded and burned to the ground by the Babylonian army as punishment for their disobedience to God. The Temple was reduced to rubble and the king hauled off into captivity. Most of the people who weren't slaughtered immediately were exiled to Babylon from the land promised to them by God, where they'd lived and flourished as an independent nation. The rest were left to starve in the streets and get eaten by vultures. Jeremiah managed to refrain from too much "I told you so." Instead, he went about trying to comfort the people by prophesying about the eventual return from exile and restoration of Jerusalem. He gave them advice about how to manage while living in Babylon and warned them not to go to Egypt, where things would be just as bad. As Rabbi Michael Lerner points out, Jeremiah lived through the most critical point in Jewish history. Having been carted off to exile in Babylon, the Jews were about to disappear from history, probably to be assimilated into the culture of their captors. No ancient nation had ever returned from exile. Thanks to Jeremiah's ideas about personal responsibility and having an individual relationship with the one God, the Jews maintained their identity during the 70 years of foreign exile and Judaism itself was transformed in the process. We have no idea who actually wrote or edited together the prophecies in the Book of Jeremiah. It almost certainly wasn't actually one guy named "Jeremiah," but it's possible that the outlook of the real, historical Jeremiah (who lived from the reign of Josiah to sometime after the fall of Jerusalem in roughly 586 B.C.) strongly influenced the perspective of the Book of Jeremiah, and that at least some genuine prophecies of Jeremiah are included. The book itself was put together at a later time—probably during the end of the Babylonian Exile (late 6th Century B.C.) when the people of Judah were finally allowed by King Cyrus of Persia to go home. Jeremiah's prophecies all have a similar vibe. Jeremiah's desperately warning people about the great tragedy that's about to come down, and it's not a pretty picture. God's angry, and you wouldn't like him when he's angry. Jeremiah is definitely the Red Dawn of Major Biblical Prophets' Books. If you like dungeons and dragons (well, dungeons at least), apocalyptic visions of death and destruction, thundering hordes, eye-gouging, betrayal, and a total breakdown of society, this one's for you.

Why Should I Care?

Rules, rules, rules, we're not recommending anarchy here but, obviously, lots of rules are necessary to keep people living in peace, safety, health, and harmony. No texting while driving is probably a good idea. But sometimes, all the rules we have to follow seem really burdensome and arbitrary, especially when things are going well for us and we assume we're doing the right things. That's the situation that the Judeans of Jeremiah's day found themselves in. Life was pretty good, and the Judeans weren't paying much attention to the rules they were supposed to be living by. Even though those rules were given to them by God Himself and they were living in the city where God's presence hung out in the Temple. The bottom line in Jeremiah is except for the rule about not having other gods, God ends up caring less about the exact details of his rules than about loyalty, respect, and closeness with his people. By obeying the rules, the Judeans would have been showing gratitude and respect to God for all they'd been given. It would have been a real relationship, which was what God really wanted.

MARCH 6 Tuesday

Jeremiah, Chapter 1, verse 8
Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you—oracle of the LORD.

Jeremiah in this chapter received the call of God and he was afraid. Jeremiah as a young man felt inadequate to do the call of God. Moses on the other hand was a much older man but like Jeremiah when he received the call of God he felt inadequate. When Peter received the call from our Lord Jesus he felt insignificant and cried out, “Leave me Lord. I am a sinful man.” (Luke 5:8b). The lesson here is that when we are called it will be scary. Christ asks us to not be afraid. The perfect example of what our attitude to the call should be was the attitude of Mary at the annunciation when God called her to be the mother of Christ. Mary’s fiat was "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." (Luke 1: 38).

An interesting thing in this verse, is the use of the word presence. Worldly people are masters of presence or the projection of power. When called do not fear powerful people for is not God greater than the world? Talk to God, let him take control for our Lord will empower us and deliver us to accomplish his word just like he did Jeremiah and all the Saints. We for our part must be, ready for change, for God will prepare us for the challenges of our calling. We must be open to the promptings of our Lord and be willing to give up any of our own fa├žades of presence or false images of power we may have developed over time. 

We may have, at times, found ourselves projecting a presence, which is actually just an overreaction to our fears and self-doubts. Let us follow the advice of Father J. Brian Bransfield and realize: 

To find the depths of our identity we must pass through our fears.[2]

Five Enslaving Habits We Must Avoid[3]

While the horror of slavery is thankfully dead as an institution, it sadly lives on in many other forms in many lives today, all around us, in ways maybe not considered slavery by some. I hope to get you to reconsider. But let’s first define our terms:

Slave: “One that is totally subservient to a dominating influence.”~ Merriam-Webster-There are 5 basic areas of life in which we can become totally subservient to dominating influences, and thereby live less-than-ideal and something less than happy lives.

5 Ways Slavery is still with us

1.      Slavery to addictions: Whether we are talking about being enslaved to tobacco or alcohol, or whether we’re talking about enslavement to illicit material online or simply to the TV or to junk food or gossip, any addictions rob us of a measure of freedom and independence. But freedom is required for happiness. So anything that enslaves us limits the degree of joy we can have in life.

2.      Slavery to the office: When spouse and family and our spiritual lives are playing second fiddle to the office, things are likely out of whack. Of course, there will be times, like the first few years of starting a business, when things will be lopsided. But if the office always is master and you are always its servant, then change may be needed for the fullness of a happy life to be experienced. Remember, your family is not a footnote to your journey. They are there in the thick of things, experiencing it with you, alongside you, maybe, in some ways, because of you. So give them the time of day, from time to time!

3.      Slavery to success: When success becomes more important than integrity or honor or self-respect, then our subservience to the call of the dollar sign becomes self-destructive, as all addictions are. Happiness is robbed of its internal rewards when our insides are all twisted inside out as we compromise our values in the pursuit of wealth.

4.      Slavery to pleasure: Is the pursuit of pleasure hurting your relationship with your spouse? Are you pursuing pleasure at the expense of your spouse’s pleasure? Is that pursuit violating sacred vows and trusts? Are you spending your family into debt as you chase pleasure from one mountain top to another – or one casino to another – or one vacation to another – or one, well, you get the idea.

5.      Slavery to fear: Does fear and worry prevent you from taking steps to break free of a dissatisfying life? Do you wish for something more, but keep the door closed and locked and continue to do what you’ve always done? Are you trapped in a cycle of sameness, worried that if you tried to start a business, or tried to learn a skill, or tried an adventure on for size, or tried to learn to write or sing or climb, that you would fail and fall and sink and drown?


Slavery may be dead as a formal institution of human bondage, but it is alive and well in the hearts and minds and lives of too many people who have the ability to loose the shackles, but haven’t exercised the courage to do it yet.

Preparing for Battle[4] Know Your Weapons

Worship is a spiritual weapon. When we worship God, we enter into His presence in a powerful way. Because demons tremble at His presence, they are reluctant to follow us there. Frequent Mass attendance, then, is an effective weapon of our warfare.

Lenten Calendar[5]

Read: Yesterday, we read about the corporal works of mercy, and today we will focus on the spiritual works of mercy, which have long been a part of the Christian tradition, appearing in the works of theologians and spiritual writers throughout history.

Reflect: Forgiving others is difficult at times because we do not have God's limitless mercy and compassion.  But Jesus teaches us that we should forgive as God forgives, relying on him to help us show others the mercy of God. Are there grudges you are holding on to that you should let go of?

Pray: Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy today.

Act: In practicing one of the spiritual works of mercy, forgiving others, make an effort to go to Confession before Easter.

Daily Devotions
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         Nineveh 90 Day 65
·         Manhood of the Master-Day 3 week 6
·         Lenten Calendar Day 21
·         Do 30 min. in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
·         Please pray for me and this ministry

[2] J. Brian Bransfield, Living the Beatitudes-A Journey of Life in Christ.
[4]Thigpen, Paul. Manual for Spiritual Warfare. TAN Books.

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