- The Holy Prophet Jeremiah Jeremiah was born about 650 years before Christ in the village of Anathoth near Jerusalem. He began to prophesy at the age of fifteen, during the reign of King Josiah. He preached repentance to the king and noblemen, false prophets and priests. During the reign of King Josiah, Jeremiah barely escaped death at the murderous hands of the enraged nobles. Concerning King Jehoiakim, he prophesied that the king’s burial would be like the burial of an ass, that is, his dead body would be cast outside Jerusalem and dragged along the ground and without benefit of burial [He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 22:18)]. Because of this, Jeremiah was cast into a prison. Not being able to write in prison, he sent for Baruch [the son of Neriah], who stood near a small window of the prison while Jeremiah dictated to him. When this prophecy was read to King Jehoiakim, the enraged king seized the paper and threw it into the fire. Divine providence saved Jeremiah from prison, and the words of the prophet concerning Jehoiakim were fulfilled. Concerning King Jeconiah [son of Jehoiakim, King of Judah], Jeremiah prophesied that he and his entire family would be carried off to Babylon and that he would die there. All of this came about shortly. Under King Zedekiah, Jeremiah placed a yoke around his own neck and walked through Jerusalem, prophesying the fall of Jerusalem and bondage under the yoke of the Babylonians [Thus said the Lord to me; Make thee bonds and yokes and put them upon thy neck (Jeremiah 27:2); I spoke also to Zedekiah, king of Judah, according to all these words saying, bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live (Jeremiah 27:12)]. Jeremiah wrote to the Hebrew captives in Babylon, telling them not to hope for a speedy return to Jerusalem, for they would remain in Babylon for seventy years, which came to pass [This whole land shall be a ruin and a desert. Seventy years these nations shall be enslaved to the king of Babylon (Jeremiah 25:11)]. Near Jerusalem in the Valley of Tophet, where the Jews sacrificed children to the idols, Jeremiah took a potter’s clay vessel in his hands and shattered it before the people, prophesying the imminent routing of the Kingdom of Judah. The Babylonians shortly captured Jerusalem, slew King Zedekiah, plundered and destroyed the city, and beheaded a great number of Jews in the Valley of Tophet on the same spot where children had been sacrificed to idols and where the Prophet Jeremiah had smashed the potter’s vessel. Jeremiah, with the Levites, removed the Ark of the Covenant from the Temple to Mount Nebo, where Moses had died. There he hid the Ark in a cave. However, he hid the fire from the Temple in a deep well. Jeremiah was forced by some Jews to accompany them to Egypt, where he lived for four years and was then stoned to death by his countrymen. To the Egyptians, Jeremiah prophesied the destruction of their idols and the arrival of the Virgin and Christ-child in Egypt. There is a tradition that states that Alexander the Great visited the tomb of the Prophet Jeremiah.*) By Alexander’s order, the body of Jeremiah was translated and buried in Alexandria.
*)The Egyptians virtually deified St. Jeremiah. That is why they buried
him as a king. Even after his death, they considered him a miracle-worker. They removed dust from his tomb as a cure against snake bites. Even today, many Christians invoke Jeremiah against serpents.
The Venerable Martyr Acacius, The Slipper-Maker Acacius was from the village of Neochorion near Thessalonica. Greatly maltreated by his master in Serres, Acacius converted to Islam. Later, as a penitent and monk, he lived in the Monastery of Hilandar [Mount Athos]. His poor and Christ-loving mother counseled him: “As you willingly denied the Lord, so now you must willingly and bravely accept martyrdom for Sweet Jesus.” The son followed the advice of his mother. With the blessing of the fathers of the Holy Mountain, Acacius traveled to Constantinople, where the Turks beheaded him on May 1, 1816 A.D. His head is preserved in a reliquary in the Russian Monastery of St. Panteleimon on Mount Athos.
The Venerable Paphnutius Of Borovsk Paphnutius was born the son of a Tartar nobleman who later embraced the Christian Faith. At age twenty, he was tonsured a monk and continued to live in a monastery until his ninety-fourth year, when he reposed in the Lord. Paphnutius was a virgin and an ascetic, because of which he became a great miracle-worker and clairvoyant. He died in the year 1478 A.D.
Hymn Of Praise The Prophet Jeremiah Jeremiah, chaste one and prophet, Reveals the will of God to men. When in sin, men decay And trample upon the Law of God. The prophet cries out, weeps and threatens, His words are like a living flame, Burning sinners, illumining the righteous; His tears are as the tears of a mother, Over her dying offspring. The prophet foresees it: punishment is coming, A punishment deserved a hundred fold. The mercy of God turns to justice. The prophet cries out, weeps and threatens, Calling the sinful people to repentance. The people heed what their leaders say, And the leaders laugh at the prophet And proclaim his words a lie! But the prophet does not let himself be wearied; With sufferings he seals his words. Wicked men slew the prophet And made him forever renowned. All the words of the prophet were fulfilled– The kingdom fell, the prophet was glorified.
Reflection The Venerable Paphnutius of Borovsk said to his disciples that a man’s soul and his hidden works can be known by the look in his eyes. This seemed unbelievable to his disciples until this man of God actually confirmed it on more than one occasion. Foreseeing the fate of others, Paphnutius also foresaw his own fate. A week before, while still in good health, he prophesied that he would depart this world on the following Thursday. When Thursday dawned, he joyfully cried out: “Behold, the day of the Lord, rejoice O ye people; behold, the awaited day has come!” Behold, this is how a man meets death; a man who, during his whole life, pondered on separation from this world and the encounter with God.
Contemplation Contemplate the Ascension of the Lord Jesus:
- How two angels appeared to the disciples while they were still gazing after the ascended Lord;
- How the angels proclaimed that the Lord would come again in the same manner as the disciples saw Him ascending into heaven.
Homily on the power of the Lord’s word “Is not My word like the fire, says the Lord, like a hammer shattering rocks " (Jeremiah 23:29). Yes, O Lord, Thy word is indeed like fire; like fire that warms the righteous and burns the unrighteous. And, indeed, Thy word is like a hammer; a hammer that softens the stony hardness of the heart of a penitent and pulverizes the heart of an unrepentant sinner into dust. Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us? (Luke 24:32), the apostles asked after speaking with the resurrected Lord. When the heart of a man is set aright, it burns from the word of the Lord; it is melted by kindness and expands with love. However, when the heart in man is not set right, but hardened by sin, then the heart bakes from the word of the Lord and becomes even harder. And pharaoh’s heart was hardened (Exodus 8:19). In vain do sinners fortify themselves in their fortresses of stone, in their fortresses of iron, in their fortresses of silver and gold, and reject the armor of God’s justice. The word of the Lord is as a powerful and irresistible hammer, when He pronounces judgment upon these fortresses of stone in which sinners fortify themselves. In vain does the unbeliever fortify his house with impregnable stones and in vain does the statesman fortify the state, hardened with the wisdom of the world and not hoping in the Living God. The word of the Lord comes down like a hammer upon all that has been built apart from God or against God–like a powerful and irresistible hammer. O brethren, let us not trust in our creations of stone, of marble, of gold, of silver, or of the godless stones of our individual thoughts. All of these are weaker before the power of God than dust before the power of the wind. O Lord Almighty, help us to receive Thy word, that on Thy word we may build our lives both in this world and in the next. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.