Suddenly a chapter from Jeremiah (1:1-19) starts speaking in a startling clarity. It offers a fresh definition of what 'religion' is. Faith is not simply about individual salvation. There is a deeper, even richer motivation for believing in God. What is this?
God reproaches the prophet and does not accept his excuse that 'Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.' Instead, God tells Jeremiah: 'Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord.'
This sending and accepting the sending is the key. Religion is about taking responsibility for our history. The prophet, our example of faith, is motivated by being accountable for the course of history... How it is (it was) shaped by us, and how it can be altered... purified, transformed, as it were, 'milligram by milligram', healed.
What the prophet teaches us that mature faith is not the narcissistic extension of the ego. 'I want to be saved' or 'I fear hell', etc. Faith, according to Jeremiah, is a healing dialogue: a commitment to heal history. Without this type of faith history remains mono-dimensional. It is like a growing, gigantic iron-ball, a closed past.
The fantastic news is that this cast-iron-rigidity, history, can be shaped. Though it is a painful clash when melting our complicity in this rigidity, history, when touched by God's word filtered through the human heart, is impressionable. Impressionable by grace!
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..