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July 28 Lectionary 400 Jeremiah and Jesus

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Scripture: Lectionary for Sat. July 28. Jeremiah 7:1-11. Psalm 84:3-4.5-6.8.11. Matthew 13:24-30:

Jeremiah offers his people in Jerusalem some of his strongest words as a true prophet of God.  The role of a prophet is not to predict but to tell God’s words directly to the people for their benefit or their woe.  Today’s prophetic word from the mouth of Jeremiah is spoken in front of the entrance to the Temple in Jerusalem, the most sacred place for God’s people.  His words seem to echo the ten commandments or as it says in the Hebrew text the “ten words” of God to the chosen people, the Israelites.

The Temple is not an asylum for sinners to escape the judgment of God. It is a place of worship and prayer from all who enter into its halls. One does not gain favor from God by simply mouthing the words, “The Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord. This is the Temple of the Lord.” To enter one must be cleansed and righteous in this sacred place.  Words alone do not suffice; the living out of the precepts and commandments of God are required for those who are listening to Jeremiah.  One’s exterior behavior and prayers must come from a heart filled with contrition and devoted to the loving the person of the Lord.

Jesus has an incident in his life where he cleanses the Temple from the buyers and sellers.  He uses the same words as Jeremiah only with great energy and strength in driving out those making a mockery of what the Temple means for the true righteous ones.  He cries out, “Has this house which bears my name, become in your eyes a den of thieves?” (see Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46).

Devout and righteous persons go beyond in doing just what the commandments tell them.  They are so interested in being in the right relationship with God that they are magnanimous in their love for their neighbor. They realize the dignity of each man and woman.  They protect children from abuse and they render hospitality to those needing food and shelter.  They do this not with glum faces nor with a pinch-penny attitude but with genuine generosity.

Though Psalm 24 is not the response for the day, it is a perfect prayer for what Jeremiah is calling us to.  The Psalm calls out for lifting up the gates so that the just may enter.  It also expresses what Jesus and Jeremiah want us to experience.  “…Who shall stand in His holy place?  He that has clean hands and a pure heart; who has not taken my name in vain, and has not sworn deceitfully.  He shall receive a blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.  Such is the generation of them that seek after Him, that seek Thy face, even Jacob.” (Psalm 24: 3-6). Amen.

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