1“In that day,” says the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people. 2 This is what the Lord says:
“Those who survive the coming destruction
will find blessings even in the barren land,
for I will give rest to the people of Israel.”
3 Long ago the Lord said to Israel:
“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.
With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.
4 I will rebuild you, my virgin Israel.
You will again be happy
and dance merrily with your tambourines.
5 Again you will plant your vineyards on the mountains of Samaria
and eat from your own gardens there.
6 The day will come when watchmen will shout
from the hill country of Ephraim,
‘Come, let us go up to Jerusalem
to worship the Lord our God.’”
7 Now this is what the Lord says:
“Sing with joy for Israel,
Shout for the greatest of nations!
Shout out with praise and joy:
‘Save your people, O Lord,
the remnant of Israel!’
Dear God, I first read this passage from the daily Catholic readings, and they changed a key word in verse 2. They personalized it to the original Israel/Jacob. They made it sound like you were talking through Jeremiah directly to Jacob. Every other translation I looked at, including the New Catholic Edition, New Revised Standard Catholic Edition, New American Standard 1995, New International Version and New Living Translation (shown above), has you addressing the people of Israel.
But I want to go back and consider, for just a moment, that the Catholic reading today was also right. That you were addressing the son of Isaac from thousands of years before. Before the exile. Before the split between Judah and Benjamin and the rest of Israel. Before the bad kings. Before Solomon, David and Saul. Before Samson and Gideon. Before Joshua and Moses. Before slavery in Egypt. I’m thinking about the man who stole his brother’s birthright and blessing as the first born. The guy who worked for Laban to get Rachel (while acquiring Leah at the same time). The guy who thought his son Joseph had been killed, only to find he was alive and very well in Egypt. The guy who repented to his twin brother Esau in order to save his own life at the hands of Esau. Let’s say for a moment that the words in these verses are meant for him specifically as he lives with you in the afterworld.
The conclusion I came to is that, having watched history play out over the next few thousand years, I’m sure he was overwhelmed by how little the things he obsessed over day to day mattered while some of the more inconsequential things he considered while he was alive ended up reverberating through history–not the least of which was agreeing for his family to go to Egypt for food during the famine.
Father, Holy Spirit, all of this makes me think about how simultaneously small my life really is while also realizing that the smallest decisions might just ripple through time. It’s the butterfly effect, but submitted to you. So I guess the best thing to pray today is that you will grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things [you want me to change] and the [discernment] to know the difference. And help me to continue to just let go of the things that I think define me when what defines me is only you.
In Jesus’s name I pray,