The Book of Lamentations was for many years central to Vigils of the Liturgy of Hours for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. The sadness of the prophet Jeremiah over the destruction of Jerusalem were connected with the Passion and Death of Jesus.
There are many beautiful, haunting musical renditions of the Lamentations, which I will be listening to during the next few days.
This year Holy Week feels more like a time of lamentation than I’ve felt in many years. Some of this is personal, but much is related to the reality the poor face here in Honduras.
So, this morning, reading Jeremiah in the Vigils reading from Benedictine Daily Prayer I was moved by these words of Jeremiah 8: 21-22 (NRSV translation):
For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt.
I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.
Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then has the health of my poor people
not been restored?
Jeremiah is writing in the context of the destruction of Jerusalem that arose as a result of the sinfulness of the people, but still his deep grief speaks to me in a situation where, all too often, the poor and innocent suffer.
But I don’t feel overcome in the face of the pain. Despite the grief, I find a deep peace within me.
More than anything else, I feel the challenge of the first line of today’s reading from the third Servant Song of Isaiah 50:4 (NAB translation):
The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue,
that I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.
I pray that I may be a presence with the people the next three days that will help them experience the hope of the Risen Lord, in the midst of our grief.