Thursday, February 13, 2014

“We forget old stories, but those stories remain the same.”

"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." - Cardinal Francis George of Chicago – May 2010

Scripture text: (1 KGS 11:4-13)
When Solomon was old his wives had turned his heart to strange gods,
and his heart was not entirely with the LORD, his God,
as the heart of his father David had been.
By adoring Astarte, the goddess of the Sidonians,
and Milcom, the idol of the Ammonites,
Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD;
he did not follow him unreservedly as his father David had done.
Solomon then built a high place to Chemosh, the idol of Moab,
and to Molech, the idol of the Ammonites,
on the hill opposite Jerusalem.
He did the same for all his foreign wives
who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.
The LORD, therefore, became angry with Solomon,
because his heart was turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel,
who had appeared to him twice
(for though the LORD had forbidden him
this very act of following strange gods,
Solomon had not obeyed him).

So the LORD said to Solomon: “Since this is what you want,
and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes
which I enjoined on you,
I will deprive you of the kingdom and give it to your servant.
I will not do this during your lifetime, however,
for the sake of your father David;
it is your son whom I will deprive.
Nor will I take away the whole kingdom.
I will leave your son one tribe for the sake of my servant David
and of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.”

Solomon in his lifetime was amazingly blessed by God. He sat at God’s table and enjoyed a rich banquet of food and the delights of wealth. But his passion for the one true God faded. He became worried that the “Gods” of the nations around him are more powerful than Yahweh. He was seduced by the wealth and worldly status of these nations and wanted Israel to join them rather than be the unique “light to the nations” that God called it to be. God give him so much, but it seems to have done little to convince Solomon of His goodness and love.

Sound familiar?

Western culture seems to have forgotten God. Historically unprecedented, many Western societies are trying to exist without any reference to God at all. Relationships have become shallower and the desire for the true good of the other is being set aside in favor of personal profit in this life. In families, the most basic cell of society, self-sacrifice for the sake of eternal reward is being replaced with the temporary pleasures this life offers.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia addresses this dilemma in a most prophetic manner:

 “The world urgently needs a re-awakening of the Church in our actions and in our public and private witness. The world needs each of us to come to a deeper experience of our Risen Lord in the company of our fellow believers. The renewal of the West depends overwhelmingly on our faithfulness to Jesus Christ and his Church.

"We need to really believe what we say we believe. Then we need to prove it by the witness of our lives. We need to be so convinced of the truths of the Creed that we are on fire to live by these truths, to love by these truths, and to defend these truths, even to the point of our own discomfort and suffering. We are ambassadors of the living God to a world that is on the verge of forgetting him. Our work is to make God real; to be the face of his love.

"The lesson of the 20th century is that there is no cheap grace. This God whom we believe in; this God who loved the world so much that he sent his only Son to suffer and die for it, demands that we live the same bold, sacrificial pattern of life shown to us by Jesus Christ.  The form of the Church, and the form of every Christian life, is the form of the cross. Our lives must become a liturgy, a self-offering that embodies the love of God and the renewal of the world."

So dare to “swim against the current tide of society” and know that God himself will reward you for your faithfulness!

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