Pathways through Lent

Weekday reflections from St. John’s in the season of Lent.

Thursday in the Fourth Week of Lent: March 14, 2024

For the fifth Sunday in Lent, the lectionary readings from the Hebrew Scriptures are from the prophets who promised the future restoration of God’s people, after the Babylonian Captivity. For this year it’s Jeremiah 31, about the New Covenant (Testament).

Early in our marriage, my wife and I decided to include shared Bible reading and conversation at dinner time. Since we were both professional church workers and familiar with leading others in these disciplines, we were not sure how we would do at managing this as a shared exercise at home. For the record, we were not very good at it. Our great idea lasted only until we had children and new distractions at meals.

What I remember so vividly was our unfortunate choice to read the Prophecy of Jeremiah. Wow! No wonder he is called the “Weeping Prophet.” I was struck with Jeremiah’s endless ways to say how terribly the people were acting, and what was in store for them as a result. Also all those weird events: walking around with a yoke on his shoulder—thrown into a dry cistern—hiding soiled underwear in a stone crevice until it rots. 30 chapters of “doom and gloom.”

Finally, in chapter 31, the most famous sentences in the entire book: “The days are surely coming . . . I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts . . . No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me . . . for I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more.”

What a grand word of hope to end this part of Lent before we get to Holy Week! As Jesus says in Sunday’s gospel: “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

Jack Reiffer
Pathways Editor

Links to the appointed readings for today

Sunday’s Jeremiah lesson