Bringing the Text to Life

Bad Medicine for the Soul Jeremiah 8:18–9:1

Bad Medicine for the Soul

Sometimes you have to swallow the bitter in order to get better.

At a Glance

What is a "balm in Gilead?" We begin with trees, fruits and vegetables that have surprising nutritional or medicinal value. Then we look at the "balm." We discover that for the Hebrews, a nice, pleasant, sweet-smelling balm is not going to be enough to heal their disease. They need to swallow some bitter medicine before healing can take place.

Editors' Pick

For material based on today's gospel text, see "The Liar's Club," September 19, 2004, at

It seems axiomatic that, when you're sick, the nastier the medicine tastes the better it is for you. Generations of baby boomers remember mom shoving castor oil down their throats, for example, or sucking in the nasty aroma of an ointment in order to open up clogged sinuses, or drinking cough medicine that tasted like a cherry shot from hell. To quote that old Bon Jovi song from the 80s, sometimes mom's love was like "bad medicine," where the cure was often worse than the...

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