At first glance this passage from Jeremiah is puzzling: the "princes and the people" can't seem to make up their minds about whether Jeremiah is a true prophet or not, whether he carries a real and demanding message from the Lord or he deserves death for blasphemy. The Church does not ask us to read about 8 verses from this passage today, but those verses don't substantially change that fact.
I find the situation that Jeremiah's text describes to be similar to our own times, when there are so many very diverse voices in the Church, even in the hierarchy, and when we have a succession of papal and conciliar documents that call for a change in attitudes, positions, and practices, ones that were our rule and direction only months and years before.
How do we distinguish the true voice of God and find peace of heart in all of this tumult? How do we distinguish what is truly important in this welter of attitudes, opinions, and positions? Can we recognize the word of God and the ones who truly carry that word?
I believe that the answer lies only in prayer, constant prayer, and in my constant refusal to trust in the absolute value of my own opinions and talents. The Spirit has given each of us many gifts, but it is only when all of the faithful put all of those gifts together that the full voice of the Spirit will be heard.
This means that often I will be wrong, that what I believe to be the Spirit working within me is only my poor self asserting its own ideas and preferences. I will often have to let my own ideas take a back seat to those of others, recognizing that I am incomplete without the rest of my community, all these divergent and seemingly contrary voices.
And so I will need to live and work in this diversity and conflict to build God's Kingdom, struggling with my poor self and serving and listening to others in real humility and poverty --- and hope.
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