For a complete list of blog posts in the Journey Through The Word series, please click here.
Where Am I?
The book of Baruch is found following the book of Lamentations and before the book of Ezekiel.
Baruch is basically a continuation of the book of Jeremiah the Prophet, Baruch being his secretary and familiar with the warnings of Jeremiah, has in these six chapters, a series of poetry and prose, both of prayer and of warnings to those who are exiled in Babylon.
It’s a very short book, shorter than some of the New Testament books, can easily be read in a sitting or two (depending on your patience level and time available). I think it’s worth noting in this post (which falls during the liturgical season of Lent) that the exiles in Babylon are depicted as being penitential in nature.
“And Baruch read the words of this scroll for Jeconiah, son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, to hear it, as well as all the people who came to the reading: the nobles, the kings’ sons, the elders, and the whole people, small and great alike — all who lived in Babylon by the river Sud. They wept and fasted and prayed before the Lord, and collected such funds as each could furnish. These they sent to Jerusalem” (Baruch 1:3-7a).
They asked the high priest to prepare sacrifices and prayers that God might prolong the life of their leader, and that they might experience peace, and recognizing their own sins, that God might deliver them from their bondage. They also charged the high priest to remind God of all of His past mercy.
The poetry that follows this portion reads as the people of Jerusalem’s response, like a mother grieving for the child torn from her nursing breast. It’s no wonder that this book follows the book of Lamentations, for it is a book of suffering and repentance.
What would, I wonder, a nation under the bondage of sin look like if, when hearing the living Word of God, we responded in this Lenten season with sacrificial gifts, both to pray for our leaders, to pray that we might live in safety and peace, to recognize and renounce our sins, and ask for God’s compassion and mercy?
Jeremiah’s letter against idolatry (chapter 6) is probably my favorite passage. I like the level of detail and care the passage goes through, describing the household idols that families have set up, made of wood or silver or gold, and wearing away. They cannot even wipe the dust that accumulates in their eyes, or replace the clothing they wear that tears and fades in color. They are mute, lifeless, symbols. What are the idols in our lives that we need to renounce this Lenten season?
I am afraid that if I cannot recognize them in my own life, how much less my neighbor in theirs? (And it may be, a subject deserving of its own post someday, as God wills it).
If there were ever a good time to petition our high priest, Jesus Christ, it is during Lent. If there were ever a time to be penitent, it is during Lent. Now is the hour of our salvation.
Next week, I’ll be concluding this series on the deuterocanonical books, finishing up with the bonus chapter in the book of Daniel.
*The Bible version I am studying is the New American Bible, Fireside Personal Study Edition, (2006-2007 edition) by Fireside Catholic Publishing. Some of my paraphrases are based on the NIV and NASB versions which I grew up with. Links provided to Bible chapters are from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website, which has an online edition of the New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE).