By way of reminder, here was the Old Testament reading on Sunday, August 14th:
In those days, the princes said to the king:
“Jeremiah ought to be put to death;
he is demoralizing the soldiers who are left in this city,
and all the people, by speaking such things to them;
he is not interested in the welfare of our people,
but in their ruin.”
King Zedekiah answered: “He is in your power”;
for the king could do nothing with them.
And so they took Jeremiah
and threw him into the cistern of Prince Malchiah,
which was in the quarters of the guard,
letting him down with ropes.
There was no water in the cistern, only mud,
and Jeremiah sank into the mud.
Ebed-melech, a court official,
went there from the palace and said to him:
“My lord king,
these men have been at fault
in all they have done to the prophet Jeremiah,
casting him into the cistern.
He will die of famine on the spot,
for there is no more food in the city.”
Then the king ordered Ebed-melech the Cushite
to take three men along with him,
and draw the prophet Jeremiah out of the cistern before
he should die.
— JER 38:4-6, 8-10
Mark Shea has not introduced a new phenomenon. We don’t like it when people upset the apple cart. In fact, we really only want to hear messages from God that are affirming. If we must be chastised by God, we would prefer he do so in the silence of our own hearts, and not with a bullhorn in a public place. Yet, God has sent his prophets with unsettling messages from the beginning; And from the beginning we’ve stoned them to death.“Wait Just a Minute! I don’t disagree with his message, it’s his way of delivering that message which causes me to shut him out and shut him down!” I’ve heard this from more commenters than I can count. “He’s Uncharitable!” If what you meant to say was “He is abrasive and he hurt my feelings” I have no doubt that you are correct. But “Uncharitable” doesn’t mean brash and unkind, it means lacking in love. Love, as we have discussed on this blog before, means “To will the good of another.” If you are accusing Mark of not caring about or “willing” your eternal good, I think that you are gravely mistaken. No one in this world is so masochistic that he would daily enter into an arena in which he receives insults and death threats if he didn’t care about the good of the ones to whom he speaks. I don’t have quite the thick skin he does. I simply don’t engage in the comments. But Mark, knowing the importance of the faith, wades into these conversations each and every day.