Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’ – Jeremiah 1: 4-5
Once again we have our Eastern Rite brothers and sisters to thank for reminding us of the saints of the Hebrew Scriptures. In the Byzantine calendar, today is the feast of St. Jeremiah, a prophet in Judah who began his work during the reign of the godly King Josiah and ended it during the time of the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the Jews from their land.
Jeremiah knew that the time of suffering and wandering was at hand. He spoke and warned the people. He urged them to care for the poor, the widowed and the orphan. They mocked and reviled and ignored him. He was hounded and punished: flogged, imprisoned, locked in stocks and tossed alive into a deep cistern. Jeremiah knew great darkness and discouragement. He is honest about his suffering.
Cursed be the day on which I was born!
May the day my mother gave birth to me never be blessed!
Jeremiah surely loses faith in himself, but never in God.
But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion…
Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord,
For he has rescued the life of the poor
From the power of evildoers.
In our own time, Jeremiah’s life stands as a witness to the truth that God knows each of us, even before we are born, and that God has a purpose for each human life. We are never just a collection of cells. May we, like Jeremiah, listen for God’s word in our lives and follow God’s leading.
– Melissa Musick