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Daily Devotional • March 11

David Baumann
A Reading from Jeremiah 5:20-31

20 “Announce this to the descendants of Jacob
    and proclaim it in Judah:
21 Hear this, you foolish and senseless people,
    who have eyes but do not see,
    who have ears but do not hear:
22 Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord.
    “Should you not tremble in my presence?
I made the sand a boundary for the sea,
    an everlasting barrier it cannot cross.
The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail;
    they may roar, but they cannot cross it.
23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts;
    they have turned aside and gone away.
24 They do not say to themselves,
    ‘Let us fear the Lord our God,
who gives autumn and spring rains in season,
    who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’
25 Your wrongdoings have kept these away;
    your sins have deprived you of good.
26 “Among my people are the wicked
    who lie in wait like men who snare birds
    and like those who set traps to catch people.
27 Like cages full of birds,
    their houses are full of deceit;
they have become rich and powerful
28 and have grown fat and sleek.
Their evil deeds have no limit;
    they do not seek justice.
They do not promote the case of the fatherless;
    they do not defend the just cause of the poor.
29 Should I not punish them for this?”
    declares the Lord.
“Should I not avenge myself
    on such a nation as this?
30 “A horrible and shocking thing
    has happened in the land:
31 The prophets prophesy lies,
    the priests rule by their own authority,
and my people love it this way.
    But what will you do in the end?”

Now where have we heard that line before, the one in today’s lesson about people “who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear”? Oh yes. It was Jesus, as recorded both in Mark (8:18) and Matthew (13:15). In Matthew’s version, Jesus explains to the disciples why he teaches in parables: “This people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise, they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.”

Once I had a parishioner who lived in a senior residence. She was very hard of hearing but refused to wear any kind of hearing aid. It was at the point where I literally had to shout to get her to have even a little awareness of what I was saying. Imagine shouting in a crowded common room, “Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open ….” and still the woman would scrunch up her face and screech, “What?” Her pride refused to face the fact, obvious to all, that she was hard of hearing, and it had gotten to the point where she was effectively cut off from any genuine communication with anyone. 

Today’s lesson from Jeremiah tells the hearers that God is right in front of them, and they cannot see, or hear, or understand. Many times in my ministry I have tried to work with people who were willfully stubborn in maintaining their addictions, the brokenness of relationships, or their calamitous moral decisions. Jeremiah’s audience cannot see the wonders of ordinary time and seasons as pointers to God. It has brought about a horrible and shocking thing in the land: “the prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” 

David Baumann served for nearly 50 years as an Episcopal priest in the Dioceses of Los Angeles and Springfield. He has published nonfiction, science fiction, and short stories. Two exuberant small daughters make sure he never gets any rest.

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Rift Valley – The Anglican Church of Tanzania
The Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana
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