The first reading on this 6th Sunday in Ordinary Times, year C, (Jeremiah 7:5-8) presents us with a scenario that could easily prompt an essay requiring us to compare and contrast between a person whose trust is in human beings and their abilities and a person whose trust is in the Lord; between a brown lifeless shrub in the desert and a green fruitful tree planted by the bay; between a person who is cursed by God and a person who is blessed by God. Life always requires an anchor; a pillar of trust that can hold us in place, just in case; a pillar we can hold unto when everything else fails. Such a pillar could be God, a person, or a thing. In this reading, Jeremiah reduces this choice to two—person or God—and then goes on to explain the consequences associated with each choice.
There is a natural tendency for us to rely on each other for many things; for everyday life engagement. Yet, our daily dealings with fellow humans, both corporately and individually, has shown that the flesh is feeble, sinful, and, many a time, unreliable. As humans, even when we do not mean to fail, we often do and in many cases, we do not have the power not to be so. We get overwhelmed by forces and circumstances beyond our control or forces driven by our self-centered needs and appetite.
No wonder, Jeremiah, in this reading likens those who put their trust in human strength to a desert-plant that is small, malnourished, dry, and condemned to a hard and unfruitful existence; wasted and living life on the margins. What this means is that the one whose trust is in human flesh is going to be spent fighting for survival all the time; unable to display the beauty and the holiness of Christ in their lives; unable to benefit from God’s graces and blessings because of being adapted to living on their own resources. Yet, we know that man could be alive today and dead the next minute.
On the other hand, there are those who have chosen to put their hope and trust in the Lord; the God of unfailing grace; a promise-keeping God. Jeremiah describes these people as ‘blessed’ or ‘happy’, unlike the previous ones who were described as ‘cursed’. For those whose hope is in the Lord, God, according to Jeremiah, provides an endless source of blessing and strength to the extent that, even though the times of draught come, they will not experience distress or unfruitfulness because the channels of God’s grace will be in constant flow to provide windows of opportunity for every needed escape; sustenance for every needed help, forgiveness for needed reconciliation, power to overcome every tribulation and adversity, and blessings for needed abundance.
So, how do we want to choose? To be cursed or to be blessed; to let the Word of God order our steps, direct our path, form our consciences, dictate our actions, and direct our everyday living, or to let Hollywood, the social media, and liberal outlets to dictate the foundation of our human choices. We need to be careful how we make this choice because it has the power to determine our destiny. “Blessed is the man whose hope is in the Lord”.