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The book of Jeremiah is one of the longest books in the bible. The reason why is because Jeremiah didn’t write it. He had a secretary whose name was Baruch. Jeremiah sent Baruch to the temple to read it to the people. In fact, he read it twice. The churchgoers who heard it were deeply distressed because the book discussed the future destruction of their beloved city, Jerusalem; the exile of the people into Babylon, and their oppression under a foreign nation. They immediately brought the scroll to the king so he could be warned of the imminent danger. Perhaps he could do something to stop the inevitable. Naturally, the king did not like the book because the destruction was said to be due to very bad leadership. So the king burned the book, one page at a time. Doesn’t the king know that you cannot destroy God’s word? So God told Jeremiah to write the same book again. Of course, Jeremiah did not have to write the book; he had a secretary-poor Baruch. Imagine if you had to rewrite all of the oracles. You would think that no one would ever read such a book because it was so negative. In addition to this, everyone thought Jeremiah was a crazy man. Who would want to read a book by such a deranged author?
Seventy years later, someone read the book. Everything that Jeremiah said, came true. Indeed, the person who read the book so many years after it was written wanted everyone who was suffering in exile to read it. Here is the reason why. The book has a happy ending. You will not find the happy ending at the end of the book. Instead, it is buried in the middle of the book. There it speaks to the exiles with great promise and hope. They will be favored and elected by God as his special people, and they will be lifted up and make a great nation. Imagine, you are one of the exiles and reading this message that was addressed to you. You would be very pleased. If Jeremiah was right about the destruction of Jerusalem, then he must be right about the restoration of the people of the exile.
Baruch, Jeremiah’s secretary. also wrote a happy ending of his own. That is what we read in the first reading today. He wanted us to know that no matter what happens to us or how dark it may seem, in the middle of our lives, there is always going to be a happy ending.
A few seasons ago Tom Brady tossed an interception near the end of the fourth quarter. He handed the ball to the team that was already winning the game, with only one minute left to the game. At that moment, forty thousand fans left the stadium. They were all probably very disappointed and didn’t want to hang around to witness the inevitable. I called my father the next day and asked if he had watched the game. He replied, “I did.” I asked him what he did when Tom Brady threw the interception at the last minute of the game. He told me that he had shut the TV off, and went outside to rake leaves. So forty thousand and one people missed one of the best and most exciting comebacks in franchise history. Tom Brady and the boys recovered the ball and marched down the field and in the last few seconds of the game, and, in dramatic fashion, threw the winning touchdown. Why did forty thousand and one fans miss out? Because they didn’t let Tom Brady finish the game. That is the book of Jeremiah. His message is this-life can be filled with disappointments, losses, discouragement, and bad news. Yet, in the middle of the mess that we call life, there is a happy ending. If you are with God, never leave the stadium because you always have hope, a reason to believe, and to be filled with joy.Back to All Homilies