Step #1: Lectio / Read
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Poor Jeremiah. As a prophet, his job was to be the voice of God to the people, and to let them know when they weren't living up to their dignity as the people of God. This didn't win him any admirers, and even his friends turned against him - I mean, they literally wanted to kill him. And that's where we find Jeremiah at the beginning of today's first reading.
He must have felt so lonely! I know I would have been desperate if I had experienced all of my friends turning against me like that. And the thing is, Jeremiah ended up in this situation precisely because he was doing what God had asked him to do. Talk about frustrating.
We've all felt and known the great loneliness of feeling abandoned by friends; maybe not to the extent of Jeremiah, thankfully, but still - we've all been there. Those days or seasons of life where it feels like you just can't win and it seems like no one is in your corner; those moments where you choose God and a life of virtue, but it separates you from your friends and maybe even brings on judgement and scorn from your peers. Those moments are difficult, there's no doubt. You can hear the desperation and the hurt in Jeremiah's voice, and maybe you can even relate.
But listen, too, to Jeremiah's confidence: "But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors...will not triumph." Jeremiah's confidence in God is sure and unwavering: even in the face of what felt like total abandonment, he knew with the surest of hope that God was with him, and that was all he needed.
Jeremiah prefigures and points us to Jesus, who also would be accused, and sought out to be put to death, and betrayed and abandoned by friends. Jesus knew that same feeling of rejection. But even his prayer from the Cross - "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" - is the beginning of Psalm 22, which is a psalm of trust and praise, not despair.
Friends, life is not always easy. And living a life in Christ, choosing God and living within the dignity we have as His children...it doesn't mean that everything is going to suddenly become easy and we won't experience suffering. But the point of the Christian life is not that we don't suffer - but rather that we learn how to suffer well. That we continue to love and serve God and neighbor because we have the surest of hope that God is always with us, like a mighty champion. He has already won the victory; sin and death do not have the last word. What area of your life feels lonely right now? I invite you to take that to prayer, entrust it to God, and use Jeremiah's words: "But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion."
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
What are the areas of your life where you feel lonely or abandoned? Are any of those situations because you were trying to follow God and others did not accept that? Either way, how does it make you feel, and how can you bring that to God?
How can you have more confidence in the Lord when you are following His Will, even when others may seem against you?
What would you tell someone who may lose a few friends for making the right decision? Are you brave enough to follow your own advice?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
"Jesus, I trust in You."
"You are in control Lord."
"I give it all to You, God."
Step #5: Actio / Act
What is one tough decision or change you need to make in your life that you are afraid to do because you are afraid to lose friends? Maybe it is something you need to say, or do, or stop doing. Whatever it is, bring it to the Lord and ask for the confidence to do what is right, and be like Jeremiah, unafraid to speak truth because he knew God was on his side... like a mighty champion.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Megan Miller, the Director of Faith Formation and Youth Minister at Holy Cross parish in Deerfield, IL.
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