Fr. René Butler MS - 20th Ordinary Sunday - Mary’s Jeremiad

Mary’s Jeremiad

(20thOrdinary Sunday: Jeremiah 38:4-10; Hebrews 12:1-4; Luke 12:49-53)

There is no such thing as an isaiad, or a hosead, or an ezekielad. A jeremiad, on the other hand, means a keen lament, of the kind typically found in Jeremiah. Not only is the book of Lamentations traditionally attributed to him, but no other prophet was so opposed in his mission or so unhappy in his vocation as he.

Parts of the message of Our Lady of La Salette have the character of a Jeremiad. She complains of the seeming futility of her efforts on her people’s behalf: “As for you, you pay no heed.” 

In Jeremiah 14:17 we read: “Let my eyes stream with tears night and day, without rest, over the great destruction which overwhelms the virgin daughter of my people, over her incurable wound.” The Beautiful Lady likewise weeps over her people—but also over her crucified Son, whose image she wears over her heart. 

The cross was an instrument not only of torture but of shame, as the letter to the Hebrews acknowledges very clearly: “Jesus endured the cross, despising its shame.”

Crucified with real criminals near an entrance to the city, helpless, mocked, naked to the eyes of every passerby, Jesus suffered humiliations we can scarcely imagine. This was part of the “baptism with which I must be baptized,” of which we read in the gospel.

The image of Jesus crucified is the most powerful symbol of God’s love for us. But Jesus himself recognized that many would reject him, and that faith in him would lead to division. This is no less true today than it was then.

Maybe this is one of the reasons why many Christians wear a cross, “the emblem of suffering and shame,” as the song goes. We know we are not worthy of the great gift Jesus won for us. He endured the cross “for the sake of the joy that lay before him,” a joy that surely includes us. There is no shame in being a disciple of Jesus. 

Maximin said his first thought on seeing the Lady was that she had been beaten and fled to the mountain to “weep her eyes out.” Yes, Mary’s eyes streamed with tears at La Salette. Let us so live as to console her afflicted heart.

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