I once heard a knowledgeable student of the Bible suggest that of all the characters we meet in the Bible, the one who most closely resembles Jesus is the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah, we could say in very informal terms, “lets it all hang out.”
He pours out his emotions, the negative feelings as well as his consolations. The verses from the very beginning of the book of Jeremiah that are quoted in our first reading hint at the turmoil and opposition Jeremiah will experience in his life. Jeremiah is to be a pillar of iron and a wall of brass against the kings and princes who will oppose him. It will be a fight, Jeremiah is told, but Jeremiah will prevail.
In today’s gospel, Jesus at the very beginning of his ministry will face that kind of nerve rattling opposition. His very life will be threatened. Jeremiah and Jesus survive because of their absolute trust in the God who has called them to witness to the truth.
On another topic, we continue our reading through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church with the beautiful ode to charity. I can’t help wondering if these verses reflect Paul’s own struggle to live a life animated by love. We know from his letters, that Paul was a passionate personality, susceptible to bouts of impatience and anger and even biting sarcasm. Perhaps that is what makes his description of love so inspiring. Paul captures not just the beauty of this virtue of love. He also hints at the battle we must wage within ourselves truly to love one another.
—Walter Modrys SJ
This week’s readings can be found on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.