The Living Rite column explores what you will see, hear, taste, touch or smell while at church this weekend.
At first glance, you might find today’s readings are glum and heart-wrenching. Jeremiah is distraught that he was “duped” by God. The story behind the story is that Jeremiah was sought by God to preach and prophesy. However, his efforts were sidelined by a temple priest who had him placed in the public stocks to be admonished by everyone who saw him.
Did he give up? Hardly! Jeremiah continued his witness to God despite the aggravation. How, you might ask, is this possible?
Many prophets faced challenges and threats as they carried out God’s calling. Jeremiah was no different. Perhaps taking a look at today’s psalm response might give us an indication of how their commitment to God got them through.
The refrain “My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord, my God” can give us a clue as to their tenacity in times of peril. In this psalm you hear phrases like “my lips glorify you”, “I call upon your name … my mouth shall praise you” and “my soul clings fast to you.” This kind of prayer was their lifeline. Even Jesus in his daily life took time to get away and spend time in prayer.
I thirst. As I reflected on that word “thirst,” I felt a distinct relationship to Holy Week, when Jesus on the cross said, “I thirst.” Jesus’ thirst for our salvation is a direct correlation to our thirst for him. Have you noticed that when you are thirsty your mouth and throat feel parched and dry? That can happen with our spiritual thirst as well. Jeremiah, instead of giving up, prayed and praised. We can do the same every Sunday as we attend the Liturgy of the Mass.
There our thirst for more can be satisfied and fortified as we cling to the words of the Gospel, the prophets and the letters of the apostles. Take comfort that we are not alone in this journey. We can then partake in our most powerful thirst quencher, the Eucharist.
Like Jeremiah and the prophets, we can look to God instead of giving up. And, also like Jeremiah, we can continue to witness even in times adversity. The dismissal from the Sunday Mass is not a “see you next week” kind of dismissal; it is a sending forth to pray and witness. There is a reason why one of the dismissal forms is: “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”
The dismissal is a call for us to be in prayer always. Like Jeremiah, prayer gives us the strength to carry on.
Wettstein is a volunteer choir director and former director of music and liturgy at Good Shepherd Parish, Chilton.