Yesterday, I suggested that many human beings have a tendency to keep up with the Jones’. Well, today I’d like to suggest that we all look up to someone, people we admire, and want to learn from, whose good qualities we seek to emulate.
In today’s first reading, we find a good role model in the prophet Jeremiah. God revealed to him that his life was in danger. Now, while Jeremiah might have been afraid, he cried out to God with courage and faith, “To you I have entrusted my cause.” (Jeremiah 11:20).
Now think about Jeremiah’s words in relation to Our Lord, who is an even better role model for us. Like Jeremiah, Our Lord was being persecuted by his fellow Jews. And like Jeremiah, he entrusted his cause to his Father. On the night before he died, Our Lord prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
And this is where Our Lord and Jeremiah differ substantially. Both men were crushed, but one wanted vengeance, and the other offered forgiveness. As good and holy a man as Jeremiah was, he wasn’t perfect. Jeremiah even said, “Let me witness the vengeance you take on them” (Jeremiah 11:20). But Our Lord responded to his enemies with mercy, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Our Lord went to the Cross willingly, whereas Jeremiah became a sort of reluctant martyr.
As Christians, we know which role model we will follow. Our natural tendency, as human beings, is to want to get even like Jeremiah did, rather than try to forgive. And there are times when it can be very hard to forgive. But nothing is impossible for God. God wants to remove our vengeful heart and give us a merciful heart. All he asks is that we try to give up our desire to get even; because that decision will open the door to his grace.