Most of us would rather have cheery, good news stories than even to think about the horrors happening in the modern world. We avoid the politics, the economics, and the antics of world leaders (including our own). It’s all just too much to bear.

So when Jeremiah preaches the impending doom in the royal court, the princes acted to cheer the people and the soldiers up, by proposing the death of Jeremiah, bearer of bad news.

It is likewise very tempting to be a cheery homilist, soothing the peoples’ ears with “the good news”. Yet, uncomfortable as it is, the challenge is to present the gospel and the conforming of ourselves to Christ in all of its difficult reality. The steps are simple, but far from American culture: deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me. Not a complicated action plan, just hard to take. The first step alone, denying oneself, is to let go of that cheery, rose colored glasses outlook and see things and one’s self as we really are; naked before the throne of God. Now, that’s a scary thought!

Yet, here is Jeremiah in the dark and dank cistern, alone and hopeless and not a little beat up. The princes had him “thrown” into the cistern, down long narrow stairs of unforgiving stones.

And so, either way you understand the fire cast down on the earth of the Gospel, as the fire of the Holy Spirit or the fire of divine purification, it is not cheery, because the fire calls for decision — for Christ or not! If you do this seriously you’ll probably have to get a new set of friends nd a new family. The disciple’s walk is out of step with our culture and society.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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