1st Reading – Jeremiah 20:10-13
Jeremiah’s prophetic career extended from his youth in 626 B.C. to a date considerably later than the ruin of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Thus he witnessed the brief renewal of the covenant people under Josiah; the latter’s death in 609 at Megiddo; the obstinate, weak, and futile resistance of Josiah’s successors to Babylon; and the continued intrigues by those left behind in the land after the mass deportations in 605, 597, and 586, these intrigues culminating in the murder of Gedaliah, Babylon’s representative. After this episode the assassins forced Jeremiah to accompany them on their flight to Egypt.
More than any other prophet, Jeremiah not merely preached his inspired message but lived it too; incurring the hatred and persecution of the anti-Babylonian part throughout his life, and suffering intense personal anguish and conflicts from the part he was forced by Yahweh to play in these events.
Jeremiah’s message as a whole is dominated by a four-fold opposition: First, between Yahweh as true God and the false gods; Second, between Jeremiah as the true prophet and the false prophets; Third, between the transforming power of the true religion of mind and heart and the ineffective externalism of the official cult; and Fourth, between Babylon, designated by Yahweh to be his “servant” and Egypt, the beguiler and deceiver. Yahweh is consistently thought of as dwelling not in the Temple at Zion (as He is in Isaiah) but transcendently in heaven, looking down upon the world and presiding over all that it contains from the vast cosmic forces to the most interior thoughts and dispositions of its inhabitants.
Today we hear Jeremiah despairing about his situation.
2nd Reading – Romans 5:12-15
Our reading continues from where we left off last week. Recall that Saint Paul approaches his discussions from the perspective of family covenant, not the legal courtroom. To gain a better understanding of the context of this reading, we will continue on through Romans 6:1.
Gospel – Matthew 10:26-33
We rejoin Jesus this week during the first year of His public ministry. He has just commissioned the twelve and is instructing them as they are sent out.