Jeremiah contributes two readings to the Reconciliation Lectionary. This passage below is an excerpt from the Temple Sermon of the prophet, and bears a stylistic similarity to the book of Deuteronomy.
Thus says the Lord of hosts,
the God of Israel:
Heap your burnt offerings upon your sacrifices;
eat up the flesh!
In speaking to your (ancestors)
on the day I brought them out of the land of Egypt,
I gave them no command concerning burnt offering or sacrifice.
This rather is what I commanded them:
Listen to my voice;
then I will be your God
and you shall be my people.
Walk in all the ways that I command you,
so that you may prosper.
But they obeyed not,
nor did they pay heed.
They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts
and turned their backs, not their faces, to me.
From the day that your (ancestors) left the land of Egypt even to this day,
I have sent you untiringly all my servants the prophets.
Yet they have not obeyed me nor paid heed;
they have stiffened their necks and done worse than their (ancestors).
This is a strong reading, but a good one for the sacrament, especially the communal celebration of Penance. A preacher has many good themes from which to choose.
- I am your God; you are my people. We have a covenant relationship.
- I don’t ask for much. Nothing fancy; just listen to me.
- Sin is essentially stubbornness in the face of God’s invitation. It happened before (see Lent, cycle A, third Sunday) and it has happened again.
- God is also stubborn. Tenacious, if you will. He continues to care for people, sending witnesses, prophets and servants of his mission.