I am continuing to read the Book of Jeremiah both at home on my own and in our Bible Studies class, a great coincidence of effort. I am starting to get to know Jeremiah, the prophet and the man, much better, and in getting to know him, I am beginning to develop a good deal of empathy for me. Goodness, what a difficult time of it he had! The messages he was asked to deliver were quite alarming ones and certainly not designed to increase his popularity. This week I spent time reading through the messages of Jeremiah 2. These messages can be summarized briefly as (1) God was previously pleased with Israel because of Israel's devotion to and love of God; (2) God expresses hurt because Israel moved away from God, not being grateful for previous assistance and not basing their new beliefs on anything except superstition and convenient falsehood; and (3) God, in anger, will punish Israel as much because Israel has turned away as because Israel has the audacity to say that it has not sinned when it has. The passage is powerful and rich. I suggest taking a look at it in its entirety, which is too long to include here.
Reading: Jeremiah 2.
Meditation: This passage is as applicable to us today as it was in the days of Jeremiah -- at least, for me it hits home. I think it must be especially poignant for converts, like me. Initially, in coming to faith, there is such a strong relationship with God, so strong and compelling that living every day in such close communion changes the whole nature of one's life. With time, it becomes easier to take God for granted, and I thank God every time that I get a tap on the shoulder reminding not to do that. It is equally easy to justify the things we do as "okay" when they might be just a tad off -- a little too self-interested, a little less humble than we should be, a little too much time on "fun" activities when being with God is just as much "fun."
What struck me more than anything else is something that I, and perhaps others, think about too little. How does God feel when we stray and sin? We know how we feel, and perhaps we fear God's punishment for doing so although God has shown over and over that forgiveness and love are more likely than punishment so coming back to God is something we should look forward to and not fear. I find the Sacrament of Reconciliation to be a very comforting and motivating one in that respect. That God prefers to help us, love us, drawn us into His arms is clear from every prophet He has ever sent mankind. I am grateful for the prophet, Jeremiah, because through him God has shared with us an insight into these loving and caring traits, even His ability to be hurt by us.
Contemplation: That is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I now retire to private prayer to repent for those too-many times I have caused pain to God, to praise God for the incredible depth of His love, to thank God for giving me every chance to repent and try to avoid hurting Him again, and to ask Him not to give up on me even if I am a slow learner and ornery at times. Then I will move on to contemplation, my favorite part of the day, letting God take over the direction in which my relationship with Him moves.
I will leave you now to your prayer and contemplation. First, though, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:
Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I think you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts. (During the week, he also posts great homilies and other thoughtful discussions. I enjoy reading those, too, as do readers of this blog who have taken the stroll over to his blog.)
For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs on my sidebar and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.