This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May 1 -- Feast of Jeremiah the Prophet

Patrick Dempsey as Jeremiah?
I haven't given up on the idea of using the saints to teach vocabulary.  I just need to get offered a gig at a Catholic school first.  Maryland would be fine, or maybe Molokai.  You know how to reach me.

The word for the day is JEREMIAD.  The word actually has two separate meanings, both related to the Prophet Jeremiah.  A jeremiad can be a speech of lamentation, a long expression of suffering and woe.  It can also be an admonition of terrible things that will befall people who do not correct their bad behavior.

The prophet himself issued the admonitions first -- after all, it's only fair to warn folks before God smites them.  The Hebrews had drifted from their covenant with God -- drifted so far, in fact, that they were sacrificing children to idols of Baal.  I'm thinking that's three commandments broken in a single act.  So Jeremiah warned them to repent, and when they didn't, he prophesied the end of God's favor and seventy years of slavery.

Well, okay. 
No one likes a Gloomy Gus.  No one wants to listen to Nagging Ned.  But if you throw him down a dry well, Mr. Holier-than-Thou becomes Mr. Hole-in-the Ground.  "You can jeremiadize all you want down there, pal.  Maybe the moles will come and listen to you." 

Michelangelo's Jeremiah in the Sistine Chapel
Then some Cushite named Ebed-melch -- leave it to an Ethiopian to have qualms about a slow, bloodless murder -- pulled him out.  King Zedekiah softened a little and put Jeremiah in prison instead of finding another way to kill him.  That seemed like a solution to their problems, right up until Nebuchadnezzar showed up with an army and conquered Jerusalem.

For his tribulations, Jeremiah was released from prison and allowed to choose where he would live.  He chose to stay put, which was fine while Gedaliah, the governor of Judah for Nebuchadnezzar, lived.  But nationalists hate a collaborator, and Yishmael and his band of merry assassins shanked him.  Gedaliah's heir, Yochanan, packed up the whole household -- Jeremiah included -- and headed to Egypt.  There are some stories that Jeremiah continued to make jeremiads down there and was subsequently stoned to death, but that's not biblical.  Some folks just need everyone to be martyred, as if all the stuff he put up with back in Judah wasn't bad enough.

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