It’s interesting how often we attempt to rationalize. Everything we do has to have an explanation, even if it’s something as trivial as explaining why we don’t want to go out to see a movie. “If only we can justify ourselves,” we say, “if only we have a good reason for doing this, or saying that, then we’ll be okay.” Unfortunately, as everyone who’s ever had a relationship with a human being knows, even the very best explanation can’t save you sometimes.
In today’s reading from Jeremiah, God warns us against those “false prophets” who reassure the world that everything will be okay. They are the rationalizers, the knowledgeable men and women who explain to us that there’s nothing dark lurking in the closet, that there are no gleam and flash of tooth and claw beneath the bed. “As long as you act with good reason,” they counsel us, “no harm will come to you.” But any child can tell you that monsters do exist, though they are often locked and chained (and not so securely) behind our eyes, our ears, our lips – their touch blistering and scalding our souls in the places no one can see.
The world might not consider certain actions, certain sins, to harm us. We know otherwise. No matter how much we rationalize our actions, there will always be consequences. Even if we manage to convince our friends, families, and even ourselves that we act rightly, it can still not be enough. Sometimes we can’t even rationalize what is right. Sometimes we just know, somehow, deep inside our bones, what God is telling us to do.
I’m not saying that I don’t like logic, because I do. I like it when I can reason things out and come to a conclusion. It gives me a measure of control. Unfortunately, what we so often forget is that we can’t always be in control – we aren’t always in control – but God is. We have to trust him, to listen to his word, knowing that he is always there and can see all the inside-ups and upside-outs of everything we’ll ever say and do. As stated in Mark and 1 Corinthians, this often requires sacrifice and diligence. God’s way is very rarely easy, and it is usually hard to rationalize, especially to all of those “false prophets” of the world. But, in the end, the Word of God soothes the soul far more than the logic of this world, and brings a far greater measure of peace.