Jeremiah 38: 4-6, 8-10; Luke 12: 49-53
Jeremiah, whom we hear from in today’s First Reading, in some ways can be likened to the Edward Snowden of his day. They wanted him dead for treason; he was looked at as a traitor for carrying the burden of the truth. Jeremiah does, though, face the consequences for his actions; he understands the weight of it all on him. Throughout this book of the Bible he is often in anguish for where God has led him because it so often is where he would not go on his own and the burden of seeing the truth within himself and around him takes a toll on him. It’s no wonder that we he confronts the leaders of Jerusalem that they’d rather him dead, perceiving him as a traitor for revealing the lie that they were living!
Jeremiah believed that they should surrender. The city was already surrounded by this point by the Babylonians and he believed it was more important to save the lives than to continue this war. He was right but they still won’t get it. The city will later find itself under siege and falling again in the not so distant future. They were invested in the war and thought it would bring about peace and yet only brought more bloodshed. He tried to help them understand and see that the enemy was not only beyond the walls of Jerusalem and to be defeated, but was also within the walls. Jerusalem was just as culpable and just as much the enemy to itself but they could not see it. They did not want to hear the truth. Sometimes it is just easier to continue to live a lie, especially when you are so invested in it as the King and military leaders were at that time.
So he finds himself at the bottom of a well with no food and drink; he probably had expected that knowing his luck in life. He’s left there to die until the young, foreign court official comes and pleads his cause to King Zedekiah, who was by no means a strong leader and simply said yes to all of them. He finally gives the court official, who too understands the truth that Jeremiah speaks, to pull him out of the well and the two will flee Jerusalem to Egypt in order to protect their own lives.
The gospel is also somewhat bizarre this weekend from Luke; it seems rather harsh what Jesus is saying about divisions within the family. He knew they too were searching for peace but the mindset continued at that time, and often continues today, that the way to peace is through war, violence, and destroying the enemy. However, in the process of destroying the enemy, we end up becoming it. It is so often the story of the superheroes that we know. Jesus will try to teach a new way to peace, one that leads us to confront the truth of who we are. Yes we are children of God and born in God’s image and likeness, but we are also sinners and participate in sinful humanity. Confronting that truth is often taking the humble steps in seeing that the enemy is not only out there to be defeated, but right within me; my own worst enemy is always with me. Trying to destroy it isn’t the answer in our lives, but to learn from it and make peace with it through the way of Jesus…reconciliation, understanding, listening, and the peace will follow.
Today we pray that we may have the humility to recognize the truth within us and to acknowledge the lies we often try to live. We are Jerusalem just as much as they were the Babylonians. We pray that we may find other avenues to seek peace. War and more violence only perpetuates more war and violence and will never bring about the peace Jesus desires for us. It all too often appears that we prefer the divisions that he speaks of because we’d rather “keep the peace” which only avoids the truth rather than seeking inner peace. To truly desire it we must confront the truth of ourselves and in return, the peace, through reconciliation and understanding, will follow.