Summary: In Jeremiah’s words, there is murder, theft, fornication, perjury and the out-and-out worship of money. But we cannot forget the legal murder sanctioned by the Supreme Court.
Jeremiah 7: 1-15
“The Temple of the Lord. . .”
We are encouraged by the Church to listen to the word of the Lord, as much as possible, with ears sensitive to their original meaning. In other words, we listen as the people of Judah, the Jews, would have heard them in the days of Jeremiah. They were not good days. The kingdom of Babylon was in a conquering mode, growing rich on wealth they stole from others, and the morale of the Jews was very low after the death in battle of the good king, Josiah. But the Jews believed that they were the chosen people of the great God, Yahweh. Yet many of them lived as if the true God was just one among many. But surely He would protect them because He lived in the Temple of Jerusalem.
So Jeremiah begins this sermon by telling them they could not trust in the deceptive words they used. And he pronounced those words as if they were echoing in an empty sanctuary: “This is the temple of the Lord (softer), the temple of the Lord (softer), the temple of the Lord.” Why not? Why, in fact, was God even telling them that He would destroy the Temple of Jerusalem just as surely as He had eradicated the false temple the breakaway northern kingdom of Israel had built a few miles north of Jerusalem in Shiloh?
These words bracket the accusation of moral decay and mass apostasy. Only a just society of the Jews could reasonably expect God to support. It would be one that would act justly toward migrants, orphans and widows, avoid idolatry and worship of foreign gods. And the biggie is this: “not shed innocent blood in this place.” That is, value and protect human life in the whole of the land.
But that had not happened in Judah. “If you talk the talk, then you have to walk the walk.” And they didn’t. Instead, they erected temples to gods inherited from the Canaanites, and imported from foreign territories. It was something they had occasionally given up, but kept coming back to. And acts of injustice were the ways they became rich, so that God asked how they were making the house of the Lord into a den of thieves. Worst of all, some of them–even some of their kings–were offering human sacrifice of their firstborn sons and daughters to the war-god, Moloch. These things are called abominations, and they were certainly that.
In His day, Our Lord cited this scripture when he drove the merchants out of Herod’s Temple–people who converted Roman coin into temple money, or who sold sheep and goats and birds for the Temple sacrifices. Why was Jesus so incensed by commercial transactions there? Part of the reason must be that the vendors’ stalls were set up in the Court of the Gentiles at the outer edge of the Temple. The Temple of Jerusalem was supposed to attract Gentile worshipers, who could pray in that area. But how could they come and feel welcome and pray surrounded by a market? So Jesus drove the merchants out, and incurred the wrath of the Temple authorities who were growing rich from the franchise fees.
The words of Jeremiah are no less important to us today as they were in his time and in the time of Our Lord. The headlines today focus a great deal on what seems to be a wholesale flood of undocumented aliens into our country, many under false pretenses. The cartels, and those who aid and abet them, are the ones committing the abominations. Drug running under the cover of alien aid, sex trafficking, smuggling and corruption of authorities are beneath contempt, because they trade in human lives for money. In Jeremiah’s words, there is murder, theft, fornication, perjury and the out-and-out worship of money.
But we cannot forget the legal murder sanctioned by the Supreme Court, time and time again, as millions of innocent unborn children are ripped from their lives and their mothers by the agents of Planned Parenthood and associated organizations. Moreover, those who support them financially can deduct contributions to those organizations as charitable donations. Is it charity to destroy human lives, to corrupt the medical profession by making them kill the innocent? Moreover, and to the shame of those of us who have in the past supported the party I speak of, we have allowed the enemies of life and of natural marriage and the family to so infiltrate and subvert that party that supporters of life and marriage are driven from that party. Every presidential candidate running in that party’s primary is to one degree or another a fan of taxpayer-funded genocide against children in their first nine months of life. I will argue that support of that party in any way constitutes what Catholics call grave material sin. Many are churchgoers, but all need to examine their consciences and ask what Our Lord is calling them to do. It is a scandal that anyone would say they are personally opposed to murder, but support the right of anyone else to kill.