Friday, January 23, 2009
Jeremiah denounces his persecutors
O Lord, you have enticed me,
and I was enticed;
you have overpowered me,
and you have prevailed.
I have become a laughingstock all day long;
everyone mocks me.
For whenever I speak, I must cry out,
I must shout, "Violence and destruction!"
For the word of the Lord has become for me
a reproach and derision all day long.
If I say, "I will not mention him,
or speak any more in his name,"
then within me there is something like a burning fire
shut up in my bones;
I am weary with holding it in,
and I cannot.
For I hear many whispering:
"Terror is all around!
Denounce him! Let us denounce him!"
All my close friends
are watching for me to stumble.
"Perhaps he can be enticed,
and we can prevail against him,
and take our revenge on him."
But the Lord is with me like a dread warrior;
therefore my persecutors will stumble,
and they will not prevail.
They will be greatly shamed,
for they will not succeed.
Their eternal dishonor
will never be forgotten.
O Lord of hosts, you test the righteous,
you see the heart and the mind;
let me see your retribution upon them,
for to you I have committed my cause.
Sing to the Lord;
praise the Lord!
For he has delivered the life of the needy
from the hands of evildoers.
Comments: I have a colleague who translates the opening lines of this as “ You have seduced me and I have been screwed.” The Hebrew is almost as graphic as that—there is a sexual connotation in the words used by Jeremiah. It is often the cry of those who continue in the line of prophet in society and the Church. Those who are called to that role are not able to be silent in the face of injustice, but it does not win friends. In fact, it is often the friend that betrays because God’s truth is a heavy burden. Being a prophet is a lonely vocation. But the prophet finds delight in the work of God when the downtrodden are raised up. I guess that is why I found the Inauguration so thrilling and confirming.