Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Larry Pray

Thursday, November 13

Then they said, “Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah—for instruction shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet.”
—Jeremiah 18:18

How do we learn about God?

The book of Jeremiah suggests that there are three different ways. At various stages of our lives, we may rely on different avenues as the “best” way to learn the lessons of life.

At times, we may find that the instruction of priests counts the most. They can teach us the ways of worship—what words are used, which sacraments are celebrated, and which texts apply.  Their understanding of that which is sacred and that which is secular is well-proscribed. We can be grateful for the rules of conduct intended to bless and guide our decisions.

Or it may be the word of prophets that holds the most sway.  Their teachings are quite different from the teachings of the priests.  Indeed, the prophets reveal that sometimes God disdains somber ritual and even hymns. Instead there is an abiding concern for justice. The affliction of the poor, the greed of those in power, and systems that include some and exclude others are their primary focus.  When I was a young man, the zeal for change was a consuming passion. All the world needed to change! Today!

Or, perhaps it is a word of counsel from the wise. The wise learned about God from experience. Their concerns are centered on the inner workings of our soul, the places that respond to the circumstances of life around us. The wise look deep into the patterns of life and know how to  recognize the sacred. As I age I am tempted to say to my children, “Well, this is what happened to change my outlook.”

I suspect that each one of us has an affinity for one of these three paths. And, each one of us will one day or another discover that its neighbors also contain an abiding word of truth.

Bless our search for truth, God of sacrament, God of wisdom, and God of compassionate justice. In Jesus' Name, Amen.