The silence of the Lamb- Friday, 26th week in ordinary time- Baruch 1: 15-22
Baruch is known by many titles, all of them in relation to the Prophet Jeremiah. He is known as a disciple, an assistant or a colleague of Jeremiah. He was the son of Nerias and writes the book in 582 BC, five years after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar.
The original language of the book may have been Hebrew, but only the Greek and other versions have been preserved. Stuck to the end of Baruch’s letter is another letter, this one from the prophet Jeremiah to the Israelites in exile.
The setting of the book is Babylon where Baruch reads his scroll to King Jechoniah (Jehoiachin) and the exiles. In response, the Jews of Babylon send the book of Baruch to their countrymen who had remained back in what now was a ruined city of Jerusalem, for the Babylonians had burnt it down to the ground on 25 August 587 ( 2 Kings 25:8)
Along with the book of Baruch the Jews in exile make a collection and send money to Jerusalem. The obligation to contribute to the support of the Temple was incumbent on all Jews even the Diaspora (those living outside Jerusalem). They request their brethren there to offer sacrifice, and to pray for the king and for them; acknowledging their manifold sins.
The pericope of today’s reading is part of the confession which is followed by a prayer. The Prayer, like the rest of the book presents the view that God’s great gift to Israel was the law. It is obedience to the law which brings prosperity and disobedience that brings disaster and exile. It stresses that repentance and renewed obedience are the conditions of restoration for the people.
The sin of disobedience goes all the way back to Adam and Eve and now Baruch admits this sin as a national sin. What was once the sin of a couple is now the sin of a couple of thousands. One often gets an image of a vengeful God in the Old Testament, someone who seems to have his trigger on the button of destruction; but that is far from the truth.
As the Prophet Baruch admits, it is the blatant disregard for God’s voice and warnings and disregard for his any prophets who came to plead on God’s behalf, that has brought this ‘curse’ of exile upon them. Thrice in this short pericope the Prophet makes a reference to the ‘voice of God’ which in our time too we silenced on the cross.
Fr Warner D’Souza
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