A fortnight . . . fourteen days . . . seven time two twenty-four hour periods by ordinary conventional time-reckoning made biblically mystical as seven doubled.

High summer commands attention. As July sweats intensely in August, I find it best to be fully in the present, relishing how summer parades in her sassiest reds and purple while cicadas buzz day and night. Prone to live these long days outside, I am warned to stay indoors at midday. My lament about the heat soon shapes into a litany with its cadence nudging another memory to the fore. Last winter’s gigantic and enduring icy snowdrifts. The rhythms of my summer litany, markedly same. The metaphors, unsame. It is, I find, that intensity in the extreme draws forth meteorological litanies of lament, summer and winter alike.

Continuing the annual journey with the Hebrew prophets as they walk with our faith-ancestors, I feel intensely a heaviness of heart not dissimilar to the way oppressive humid heat cleaves to my skin. Their warnings seem as necessary and pertinent to my world today as to theirs several millennia ago. Even as the current notion “globalization” conjures the image of effective communication among people of all nations, wars, poverty, and greed prevail. Global economic institutions, ostensibly designed to regulate trade for the betterment of all, have instead wrought greater disparity between the “haves” and the “have-nots”. The legal sanctions of these same institutions serve as a most efficacious weapon of punishment for non-compliance.

Even while the 21st century is replete with resplendent cities, destitution and homelessness thrive, driving peoples to migrate from their homelands same as in nomadic days. The biblical “alien” is no less prevalent today as in Isaiah and Jeremiah’s era. Last century’s unlikely prophet, President Dwight Eisenhower warned in 1961: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” The deed is done. Some twenty-five years later, corporations became legally defined as “persons” with all the attendant rights and privileges. In the mid-nineties, global corporations began to operate with impunity in ways that frequently and ironically disregarded the rights of “humans” and other species.

It is to these practices that Jeremiah’s words from God resonate original truth in my heart. “Let my eyes run down with tears night and day, let them not cease, for . . . my people (are) struck down with crushing blow, with a crushing blow, with a very grievous wound. If I go out into the field look – those killed by the sword! And if I enter the city, look – those sick with famine!” [Jer.14: 17-18ab] It would seem that God’s heart is closer to the people then to any institution, civil or religious. For Jeremiah, who found the Temple rite and ritual to be a hollow burden for the people, God of the new covenant will not require such a culture or structure. Jeremiah witnesses to God’s most intimate covenant with the People, announcing: “ . . . says the Lord. I will place my law within them, and I will write in on their heart.” As did Jesus, I place my hope here.

Rita Sherman  rasherm@creighton.edu