The Word of God from the Mouth of Jeremiah
Jeremiah is listed on the May 1 page of the Roman Martyrology
Then the LORD extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying to me,
See, I place my words in your mouth!
The Lord called Jeremiah to be a prophet in 628 BC, when Josiah was the king of Judah. Jeremiah was young, only in his twenties, and doubted his prophetic abilities. However, God assured the young man that he would stay close and provide guidance.
The beginning of Jeremiah’s career seems to have been supported by King Josiah, who encouraged devotion to God. However, when Josiah died, his son Jehoiakim was eventually placed on the throne, and all holy obedience was tossed to the side. When Jeremiah spoke the messages of God to Jehoiakim, the self-indulgent king ignored the advice. The people of Judah no longer cared to hear the prophet’s communications, either. At this point, Jeremiah’s work became discouraging and lonely, yet he continued to deliver messages filled with encouragement to live good lives and to trust in God.
Finally, Jehoiakim’s weak dealings with his neighboring countries set his son up for immediate failure. At Jehoiakim’s death, his eighteen-year-old son Jehoiachin became king. In three months’ time, the ruler Nebuchadnezzar moved in from Babylon and was able to take over the city of Jerusalem with very little effort. Nebuchadnezzar gathered together King Jehoiachin and thousands of the more skilled and prominent citizens of Judah and forced them to trek to Babylonia.
Interestingly, Jeremiah was one of those who stayed back in Jerusalem. He tried to counsel Nebuchadnezzar’s puppet king of the broken-down Judah, Zedekiah, but to no avail. Before long, the Babylonians completely devastated the city of Jerusalem. Intriguingly, in the midst of the political turmoil, the prophet began to include words of hope and restoration, messages insisting that Judah and Israel would one day be renewed. After some time, Jeremiah was forced from Judah to Egypt by some fellow countrymen, where it is claimed he was killed. Fortunately, Jeremiah’s oracles had been written down, and the Judeans exiled in Babylonia began to read and take to heart Jeremiah’s prophecies.
A Biblical Novena to St. Jeremiah
You can find St. Jeremiah listed on the May 1 page of the current Roman Martyrology. There are many, many verses in the Bible to help you get to St. Jeremiah better—all 52 chapters of the Book of Jeremiah, for instance! Below are a mere nine short passages. Consider spending a bit of time each day for nine days to try to absorb some of Jeremiah’s messages. Take in some footnotes, cross-references, and a surrounding verse or two for further edification. See what new understandings this ancient prophet and saint might present to you.
- Day 1) Jeremiah 1:1–9, 19
- Day 2) Jeremiah 9:22–23
- Day 3) Jeremiah 17:5–8, 14
- Day 4) Jeremiah 18:1–6
- Day 5) Jeremiah 20:7–8
- Day 6) Jeremiah 29:11–14
- Day 7) Jeremiah 31:31–34
- Day 8) Jeremiah 38:1–13
- Day 9) Jeremiah 42:1-6