Jer 3:14-17; Jeremiah 31:10,11,12,13; Mt 13:18-23
I will turn their mourning into joy!
Jeremiah wanted to turn their mourning into joy. The prophet had the heart of a good shepherd. He summoned them to hear the word of the LORD and to proclaim that word on distant isles. Indeed, the word of the LORD is good news because it gathers them together, and the Good Shepherd guards them. From the very hand of his conqueror the LORD ransoms Jacob and redeems his Chosen One. The People shout for joy as they climb the heights of Zion and come streaming into the LORD’s blessings. All his blessings are abundantly available: the grain, the wine, the oil, sheep, and the oxen. Even virgins find reason to rejoice. They make merry and dance with the young men and the old as well. Indeed, the LORD turns their mourning into joy. No longer does their exile cause sorrow unspeakable. No longer does their exile paralyze them in fear or silence their praises. The LORD himself consoles and gladdens them after their sorrows. Jeremiah promises that the emptiness of exile will give birth to a new nation with leaders who shepherd wisely and prudently. The Lord Jesus gives even greater assurance to his disciples in every generation through the parable of the sower. At this Eucharist the Lord Jesus sows his seed of the Kingdom in the good soil of our hearts.
The Kingdom of David has been broken open and cast aside. The rebellious children of Israel have not been faithful to the LORD, and they have allowed all that was good and holy about their lives to be abandoned by all their compromise and concessions to the idolatry of the local peoples. Their kings were not faithful sons of David; they did not have a heart that sought after the LORD God Almighty. Despite the disaster of exile and the loss of everything the Master speaks through his prophet Jeremiah. The LORD promises to make a new nation taking one from a city, two from a clan, and making them a new people in his holy city. Then He promises to appoint shepherds after his own heart, like his beloved David, “a man after his own heart.” Once this new beginning takes place the land will again be fruitful; once again the harvest will be plenty. There will be such gladness and joy among the people that they will no longer cry out for the ark of the covenant of the LORD. They will no longer mourn the loss of the sign of His Presence from the days of the Exodus. Indeed, every nation on earth will behold the LORD’s mighty act of recreation and come together to honor the name of the LORD in Jerusalem. Indeed, in the holy city the nations will encounter a people who are no longer rebellious, who no longer walk in their hardhearted wickedness. Such a vision of the New Kingdom is in the hearts of those who hear the New Jeremiah preach about the unexpected generosity of the Sower and the Seed.
This revelation from The Master through his prophet Jeremiah prepared a chosen people to be a fertile field into which the Lord would sow the seeds of the Kingdom. However this well worked ground is and still remains less than completely fruitful. The ground may be a busy path that resists the penetration of the seed. The ground may be rocky and initially receptive but provides little support for new roots. The ground may already be filled with anxiety and attachment that chokes out new growth. Even though the Divine Sower encounters such resistance, He still sows with abandon. Indeed the New Jeremiah, Jesus the Lord, provides the seed of Kingdom Joy in the Eucharist that surprises everyone by producing in our lives an abundant yield of a hundred or sixty or thirty-fold. This parable, when first heard, produced abundant laughter and great joy among the farmers who heard it. No merely human and natural combination could ever expect such an abundant harvest. It was comical even to imagine such bounty. Yet, with eyes of faith we behold the Kingdom is near.