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Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest
Jeremiah 14:17-22
Psalms 79:8, 9, 11 and 13
In Jeremiah the prophet suggests use it or lose it!.
The Psalmist says, What becomes of those who have lost it.
And in the Gospel, Jesus gives hints as to where it may be found again.
I have a niece who once taught me an important distinction in life. As a three year-old
she proudly displayed her new shoes, adding matter-of-factly, "I still have my old ones,
but they're lost." Things that have been mislaid are a very different kind of "lost" than
things which have been stolen or destroyed. The latter cases contain an aspect of ag-
gression against and permanent removal. The former have temporary tags on them that
indicate things still in play, if only the fog of memory or lack of care could be moved out
of the way. I have spent a lifetime frustrating family members in my search for items
which were "just there." In doing so I have unnecessarily tested the trust of those I love.
I have unwittingly tempted corrosion.
The Israelites have lost their way. They have mislaid it, and in this case Jeremiah makes
it quite clear that it has been done carelessly. Even worse, he charges that they have
deliberately walked away, abandoning their faith like the loincloth the Lord commands
him to stuff in a hole in a rock. Worst of all, the Israelites seem to be proud of their ef-
forts. The commands the Lord gives Jeremiah have the biting "nonsense" of the stinging
sarcasm one might expect from a justifiably exasperated parent doing everything possi-
ble to decide what type of corrective punishment will ultimately benefit the child after a
serious breach of trust. A loincloth is a fundamental piece of protection, both physically
and emotionally. The Lord equates the bond he wanted with the Israelites as bearers of
His praise, renown, and beauty with the intimacy of a loincloth. The Israelites have aban-
doned that bond in favor of their own pride. Now the Lord assures them that the ne-
glected intimacy, rotted and useless, will be regarded with disdain, and their hollow pride
will be their undoing.
Although identical in all but the adding of a comma, "You have forgotten God,
who gave you birth" is very different from, "You have forgotten, God, who gave you