Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

Lectionary: 232

Heed me, O LORD,
and listen to what my adversaries say.
Must good be repaid with evil
that they should dig a pit to take my life?


It's often said, "When the gods want to punish someone, they answer their prayers." In other words, we humans are notorious for asking for the wrong thing. We want what is bad for us and shun that which is best.

In today's scripture Jeremiah asks, "Must good be repaid with evil?" Jeremiah was a very young man, perhaps a teenager, when the Spirit of Prophecy fell on him and he was recognized by the people and rulers of Jerusalem as a man with divine authority.

Unfortunately, that did not mean they welcomed his pronouncements or followed his counsel. There was a host of other prophets who contradicted everything he said. In fact, because his authority was truly divine, he was routinely ignored, snubbed and punished. By his teaching and the manner of his life and death he is considered the most Christ-like of the ancient prophets. As the young man Jesus became familiar with the story of Jeremiah he saw his own doom.

Jeremiah asks, “Must good be repaid with evil?” Or, as today’s cynics say, "No good deed will go unpunished."

Broadly speaking, most religious people figure, “If I do the right thing, the Lord owes me blessings. And if I do wrong the Lord will punish me.” That conventional religious wisdom makes perfect sense.

But Jesus promises just the opposite. He leads us through Lent to Good Friday. On the road we hear his less than reassuring words, “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first."

Our communion of prayer, fast and abstinence with Jesus is a communion with all those who do not have enough to eat, who are treated unfairly, who live beyond the edges of society and the conventional protections of a highly advanced, technological society.

Whenever we invoke the presence of Jesus, whether during the Mass or in private prayer, we should notice the needy crowds who still flock to him. if we are not to be shoved out and away from him in the jostling commotion, we must greet them with the same reverence he showed to them.

Lent insists we must become more aware of the privileges we take for granted, the entitlements that were given to us but not to others. We might consider how willing we are to fight for these "rights" when they are nothing more than unearned, undeserved advantages bestowed arbitrarily by an unjust world:

You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.

The guarantee of our faith is not easy street or happy days; it is communion with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.