God commanded the prophets not only to speak to his people and communicate his word to them, but also to undertake certain actions that served as prophetic symbols. For example, the prophet Hosea married a harlot, symbolizing God’s faithful love and Israel’s infidelity. Hosea then restores her to the family home foreshadowing the Lord’s plan to bring his people back to his love. Isaiah is commanded to walk naked and barefoot for three years as a sign against Egypt and Ethiopia (Isaiah 20:2-3).
Jeremiah is told to cut off his hair, a sign of mourning, and cast it away, symbolizing God’s rejection of Jerusalem (7:29). Today’s first reading sees Jeremiah buy a linen loincloth, wear it on a long journey to the river Euphrates and hide the loincloth among the rocks. A while later, Jeremiah goes back to find the loincloth and sees that it is spoiled and good for nothing. The episode symbolizes, how close God was to his people, and how the people have spoiled that relationship by their sin. The people have become like spoiled loincloth that is good for nothing.
The Psalm reminds us of how the people forgot the God who gave birth to them, the Rock who begot them. Since they have provoked God, worshiping false idols as if the Lord was not their God (no-God), the Lord will provoke them, allowing a foolish nation to conquer them as if they were not his people (no-people).
Later in his book, Jeremiah sees a potter working at his wheel and how one of the clay vessel’s was spoiled in the potter’s hand, but then reworked into another vessel. The house of Israel is like clay in the hand of the Lord (18:1-11). Jeremiah also buys an earthen flask and breaks it in the sight of the people, symbolizing how God will break the people and the city because they refused to hear his words (19:1-15). After the promise of a New Covenant (31:31-34), Jeremiah buys a field in his hometown, as a demonstration of faith in the Lord’s promise to restore Israel (32:1-15).
In the Gospel, Jesus teaches the crowd in parables. The two parables we read today about the Kingdom reveal to us that, on the one hand, the Kingdom of God will grow like a small seed grows into a large bush, and, on the other, the same Kingdom will transform the society and culture in which it grows. The Kingdom will be a place where we dwell. We dwell in God and he dwells in us. We abide in Christ and he abides in us. The Kingdom is also the place where we find rest, God’s rest.
Through his parables, Jesus is announcing and proclaiming to God’s people what was hidden from the foundation of the world. God’s plan for man – of divine sonship, of eternal communion with him, of sharing in his peace, joy and love – all this was obscured in the beginning by the sin of Adam and Eve. God, though, does not abandon his creation or his people. He spoke to our fathers in many and various ways through the prophets, but in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the ages (Hebrews 1:1-2).
The Word of God, the Word of Truth, is a powerful word that can transform us. In fact, the Alleluia verse, taken from the Letter of James, says that the Father gives us birth by the Word of Truth so that we may be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures. And, as Saint John teaches, those who receive the Word and believe in his name, will be given power to become children of God (John 1:12). We pray today that we recognize how close God is to us, that we understand how sin spoils our relationship with God, and that we welcome God’s Word into our lives so that we can be transformed and truly live as his adopted children.
Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.