Scripture: Lectionary 401. July 30. Jeremiah 13:1-11. Deuteronomy 32:18-19.20.21. Matthew 13:31-35:
Jeremiah always speaks what God wants him to say to his people and especially to the leaders—the king and the Temple servants. God gives him as strange action parable to perform in order to awaken the people from their sinful forgetfulness of the covenant and for their not observing the commandments of the Lord. Jeremiah is told to buy a loincloth (underwear)! This garment was at times the sole cloth wrapped around the pelvis area. It served will in climates where there is great warmth. It will be worn by the prophet for a short while then hidden in a cavity on the banks of the Euphrates. It will start to rot away. Later the Lord tells Jeremiah to find it and bring it out. It will be a lesson for the leaders and peoples that they have rotted like the loin-cloth in forgetting how close God was to them through the covenant. They failed to live up to their responsibilities and did not observe the commandments. They like the loin-cloth have become worthless. The image of a loin-cloth could also refer to linen garments worn by the priests (Exodus 28:39). This would symbolize that the community was supposed to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. (Exodus 19:6).
Some responses are not taken from the Psalms but from other parts of the Hebrew Scriptures. Today we have verses from Deuteronomy which help us to understand the parable of Jeremiah. Deuteronomy makes it even more simple and clear: “You were undmindful of the Rock that begot you, you forgot the God who gave you birth.”
Jesus also continues to speak in parables but the point to be made from the two parables given in the reading is quite clear. From small beginnings in certain things of nature and grace, great things result.
Our faith and that of the community of faith grows slowly but steadily like the growth of the mustard seed or the leaven that the woman uses to bake the bread and have it rise; the same holds for our growth in the Church—slowly, steadily, but surely. Thus we learn from both Jeremiah and Jesus what God expects of us. Hopefully, we will be like the leaven and the mustard seed rather than like the rotten soiled loin-cloth. Amen.
Copyright 2012 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.