“O Lord, my God, in you I take refuge.”
The first reading gives us a quick look into Jeremiah’s mind and heart. As a prophet, he suffered for his message and his identity. He was misjudged, maligned, and rejected. Today’s gospel gives us a glimpse of the growing controversy around Jesus – about his message, about his identity. “Can he be the one?” “No, he is from Galilee, not Bethlehem.” “But listen to him – no one has ever spoken like this man!” “No, we the Pharisees and chief priests do not believe him – so don’t be deceived either!” And then we have Psalm 7 in between – an ardent plea for God’s assistance – and a wonderful affirmation of faith: “O Lord, my God, in you I take refuge.”
I found myself thinking about times I have been misunderstood, judged unfairly, maligned or rejected. Just the other day, in a rather calm discussion, someone said in an accusatory tone, “I know what you are going to say!” I found this amusing, because truly, I wasn’t sure what I thought or how I felt about the situation, much less knew what I was going to say. At some time, we all have been on the receiving end of disparagement – both large and small – and no amount of protesting or discussion changes it.
Lent is a good time to think about what it means for us to “take refuge in God,” especially at times like this. Jeremiah’s sentiment gives one possible reaction: “Let me witness the vengeance you take on them, for to you I have entrusted my cause!” How often is this our approach to “trusting in God” - we sit back and wait and watch for misfortune or trouble to land on the one who wronged us – and then we feel justified?! “Sure, I will put it in your hands, Lord, while I wait for them to stumble or get their due!” Ultimately this approach hardens our hearts.
Let’s look at the word “refuge”… a sanctuary, a shelter, a place of protection… this can evoke images of running away to a place of safety. Running away from the damaging words, running away from the hurt and anger we feel; perhaps running to God in fear. “Taking refuge in God” can also evoke an image of resting in safety - letting our hearts, our psyches, our very selves, be soothed and calmed by the balm of God’s mercy and love – a gift only God can give.
This Lent, let us take refuge in God; let’s allow our hearts to rest in God’s heart. This is the path of Jesus. It is only then that we can make decisions and take actions that lead, not to revenge and hardened hearts, but to extending the compassion of God in our world.
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