This week we move from Isaiah to another prophet, Jeremiah.
The first reading is from Jeremiah 15: 15-21.
This section starts out with Jeremiah crying out to God to seek vengeance on the ones that are persecuting him. “Take vengeance for me on my persecutors (15:15), but pride creeps in (or so it seems) where he states “I did not sit in the assembly of the mockers”. He seems to be constantly complaining about his situation to God, always seeing the bad. It was only after that where God responds and tells Jeremiah that it’s not the persecutors that need to repent, but that he is the one that needs to return: “If you return, then I will bring you back” (15:19). It’s true. We get so caught up in “woe is me” or “poor me” that we loose sight of what’s really happening. God is telling Jeremiah, and us, that if we turn to the Lord in the midst of persecution, and not complain about what’s happening, then we will be protected.
The second reading comes from Romans 12:9-21.
Paul is talking about how we are to deal with the people around us. Do not return evil with evil, that will make you just like the person who is persecuting you. We are to bless those who persecute us, because vengeance is for God alone. When you return evil with good in the end it makes the persecutor look foolish and mean spirited. We are called to plant seeds, and this will with everyone that witnesses, or is involved in any mean spirited actions.
The final reading is from Matthew 16:21-28
This section seems completely different from the two other readings. If anything it’s a person’s attitude that brings everything together. Jeremiah realizes he needs to repent from his pity party, Paul calls us to be gracious towards everyone, including the ones who persecute us, and Jesus is telling us that we are not to cling to what we possess in this life, for in doing that we loose our soul.