Grace to you!
Not many people have heard about the book of Baruch. It is one of those seven books that the Catholic Church upholds as revealed, but the Protestants, following Luther's rejection of it, consider it not part of Scripture.
Well, the original text is available to us in Greek. Earlier, the book was included among the writings arranged as part of the Book of Jeremiah. It has many prophetic words describing the plight of the people in settings, which beautifully represent the Babylonian captivity experience (586 B.C. to 538 B.C. Some people suggest 598/9 B. C. to 538 B.C.).
Baruch was the secretary of Jeremiah and a close confidant of his (Jer 32:12, 16), without whom Jeremiah's prophesy may not have reached us (Jer 36:27-32) following the burning of the initial scrolls by King Jehoiakim (Jer 36:1-26). So, it is reasonable for the Catholic Church, who arranged the first biblical canons, to place the writings attributed to Baruch, who lived longer than Jeremiah and is said to have written other prophetic utterances, right after the Book of Jeremiah.
The book has great messages applicable to us today. It reminds us of God's fidelity and providence while calling our attention to the reality of sin, which can separate us from the blessings of God.
Baruch 1:15, is a reminder that the Justice of God does not ignore sin. God is merciful, all merciful, as we have shown in several of our previous reflections, but it doesn't suggest sin isn't opposed to His justice. Sirach 9:8 warns us that no sin goes without divine discipline.
Our Lord Jesus Christ showed us through his words and actions that not listening to his word has consequences. Read the Gospel of Luke 10:13-16 (and many other places in Scripture), you will notice that the failure of the listeners to head the good news led the Lord to remind them of the curse, because if we do not accept divine blessings, we give room for divine retribution (Lk 10:13-16). When the Lord spoke of his will for our salvation, and protection under his wings, he stated that none of those given to him by the Father will be lost, but also noted, “except the one who chose to be lost” (Jn 17:12).
The reason is simple: God has made all things to respect certain laws. This is providence too. God has made us free to make choices too. We chose the path we want, and each path has a definitive end. Choose the path of righteousness and reap fruits of righteousness. Choose the path of sin and the fruits of sin are near. Divine providence implies divine justice as well.
We may argue all we want (as many philosophers and theologians like to do) about the God of the Old Testament versus the God of the New Testament as if to say it isn’t the same God. God hasn’t changed. It is we who have failed to understand God’s ways. God desires we walk rightly and act justly. To do so, is a blessing.
Praying that God will give us the grace to choose righteousness. Amen. Like Saint Francis, may we rebuild the body of Christ, at home and in the local churches where we worship, by making choices that promote the good of all and are a glory to God. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Friday Week 26 A: Bar 1:15-22; Lk 10:13-16]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.