Fr Joe has written this short reflection on today’s First Reading.
The Book of Lamentations follows in the Bible the book of the Prophet Jeremiah (655–586 BC). The Book of Lamentations has been ascribed to the Prophet Jeremiah. It is a relatively short book with only five chapters with a collection of five poems or five laments. The prophet Jeremiah concluded his prophetic book with the capture and fall of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the most prominent citizens and the treasures of the Temple being transferred to Babylon.
Now in these five chapters of the Book of Lamentations he speaks about the desolation of Jerusalem and how Jerusalem needed purification. The people of Israel have to examine their behaviour and begin the process of conversion, acknowledging their sin and implore God’s forgiveness and mercy, so that they can receive salvation. The book concludes with a prayer for God’s help. The prophet Jeremiah at no time gloats in these laments about how he was correct and that you should have listened to me. He cries, he laments with his people and offers comfort and hope.
Jeremiah reminds us in this book that the mystery of redemption arises from suffering. We only need to look at the cross to see the truth of this. There can be a redemptive valuein pain and suffering and although the people of Israel will be in exile for around 70 years, a new Jerusalem and temple will be formed, a new people and holy people will be created and the promised Messiah will live among his people.
St John of the Cross (1542-1591)
This is what St John of the Cross said about the Book of Lamentations:
“In these poems the prophet brings to life all the passions of the soul, while it is purified in the spiritual night.”