Tuesday 23 March

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Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us
that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters
we do also for you:
give us the will to be the servant of others
as you were the servant of all,
and gave up your life and died for us,
but are alive and reign, now and for ever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 21.1–10
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur son of Malchiah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, saying, ‘Please inquire of the Lord on our behalf, for King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon is making war against us; perhaps the Lord will perform a wonderful deed for us, as he has often done, and will make him withdraw from us.’
Then Jeremiah said to them: Thus you shall say to Zedekiah: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I am going to turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands and with which you are fighting against the king of Babylon and against the Chaldeans who are besieging you outside the walls; and I will bring them together into the centre of this city. I myself will fight against you with outstretched hand and mighty arm, in anger, in fury, and in great wrath. And I will strike down the inhabitants of this city, both human beings and animals; they shall die of a great pestilence. Afterwards, says the Lord, I will give King Zedekiah of Judah, and his servants, and the people in this city—those who survive the pestilence, sword, and famine—into the hands of King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon, into the hands of their enemies, into the hands of those who seek their lives. He shall strike them down with the edge of the sword; he shall not pity them, or spare them, or have compassion.
And to this people you shall say: Thus says the Lord: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death. Those who stay in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but those who go out and surrender to the Chaldeans who are besieging you shall live and shall have their lives as a prize of war. For I have set my face against this city for evil and not for good, says the Lord: it shall be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.

Psalm 73
    Truly, God is loving to Israel,
   to those who are pure in heart.
    Nevertheless, my feet were almost gone;
   my steps had well-nigh slipped.
    For I was envious of the proud;
   I saw the wicked in such prosperity;
    For they suffer no pains
   and their bodies are sleek and sound;
    They come to no misfortune like other folk;
   nor are they plagued as others are;
    Therefore pride is their necklace
   and violence wraps them like a cloak.
    Their iniquity comes from within;
   the conceits of their hearts overflow.
    They scoff, and speak only of evil;
   they talk of oppression from on high.
    They set their mouth against the heavens,
   and their tongue ranges round the earth;
      And so the people turn to them
   and find in them no fault.
      They say, ‘How should God know?
   Is there knowledge in the Most High?’
      Behold, these are the wicked;
   ever at ease, they increase their wealth.
      Is it in vain that I cleansed my heart
   and washed my hands in innocence?
      All day long have I been stricken
   and chastened every morning.
      If I had said, ‘I will speak as they do,’
   I should have betrayed the generation of your children.
      Then thought I to understand this,
   but it was too hard for me,
      Until I entered the sanctuary of God
   and understood the end of the wicked:
      How you set them in slippery places;
   you cast them down to destruction.
      How suddenly do they come to destruction,
   perish and come to a fearful end!
      As with a dream when one awakes,
   so, Lord, when you arise you will despise their image.
      When my heart became embittered
   and I was pierced to the quick,
      I was but foolish and ignorant;
   I was like a brute beast in your presence.
      Yet I am always with you;
   you hold me by my right hand.
      You will guide me with your counsel
   and afterwards receive me with glory.
      Whom have I in heaven but you?
   And there is nothing upon earth that I desire
      in comparison with you.
      Though my flesh and my heart fail me,
   God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.
      Truly, those who forsake you will perish;
   you will put to silence the faithless who betray you.
      But it is good for me to draw near to God;
   in the Lord God have I made my refuge,
      that I may tell of all your works.