Jeremiah is one of the most favourite prophets in part because he is so transparent about his call and its consequences. He certainly didn’t go out of his way to be a prophet. You couldn’t really blame him. At the time of his call, during the reign of King Josiah, the southern kingdom of Judah was not at the peak of its historical greatness. The ten tribes from the northern kingdom of Israel had fallen to the Assyrian invasion some ninety years earlier, and although Josiah was one of the better southern kings, his reforms were not far-reaching enough to have much of an impact. Not only that, but the call that Jeremiah receives is very unusual. Unlike almost every other Jewish prophet, Jeremiah is called to not only be a prophet for the people of Israel, but also for all the nations. All the nations at that time means all those kingdoms that surrounded the kingdom of Judah, and which were larger, mightier, better resourced, and likely to continue to kick their butt in any conflict. So it is little wonder that young Jeremiah is not having a great day in answering this call.
In the Gospel today we continue the reading from Luke 4, beginning with the last line that we heard last Sunday: “This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.” (Luke 4:21) And even though Jesus is taking a very Messianic prophecy from Isaiah 61:1-2 and Isaiah 58:6 and applying it very specifically to himself, the townsfolk of the hamlet of Nazareth (pictured above – the hamlet, not the people!) initially are taken in by his ‘gracious words’ – perhaps hoping that there little village will make it onto the tourist map and attract pilgrims as a passing trade. But when he begins to give examples of what his ministry is going to look like, quoting from the actions of the prophets Elijah and Elisha, the situation quickly turns ugly. It is clear that he doesn’t intend staying comfortably in the safe zone of Jewish piety, but will call his people and us to life on the margins.
Sunday 04, Year C. Luke 4:21-30; Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19.