Rend your hearts
I don’t know about you, but these are crazy days in my view. I think we tend to look around us and wonder what is going on. It’s like every government that exists has, overnight, become oppressive in some way or fashion. Conservatives and liberals hate each other with a visceral hatred that is palpable. Politics, which has always been a little dirty, has taken on a really personal and nasty tone. Everything, it seems, is in flux and changes moment by moment. The whole world is gripped by an unreasonable fear of a virus that, all things being considered, has over a 99% survivability rate. The media is constantly lecturing us about how we should all be better people, according to how they define better.
The Church is no better. I mean, if we’re being honest. We look around at the Church (the Catholic Church) and we wonder what’s going on. What we believed was something that could never falter is faltering. From the Vatican comes some strange sounding things, at least to Catholic ears. Mixed messages seem to be the theme of Vatican statements. We look at the statistics and we wonder what’s happening. 70% of people who claim to be Catholic say they don’t believe that Jesus is actually present in the Eucharist; rather, they believe it is symbolic only. That is a staggering number. Mass attendance has fallen dramatically. According to some statistics, Mass attendance has fallen to a paltry 5% of those who claim to be Catholic. Think about that. Only 5% percent of the people who claim to be Catholic attend weekly Mass, let alone daily Mass.
What is going on?
What I believe we need to do is look to ourselves first. Here’s what I mean by that. The Church seems to be falling apart. Christianity is being pushed more and more to the fringes of Western society. Who is responsible for that?
The people of God are to blame. We are responsible for the state of the Church and the world. Of course, our leaders bear culpability. The political leaders who have led us down this road bear responsibility. The bishops, cardinals and Church leaders (even the Pope) bears responsibility. But so do we as members of the body of Christ. So, rather than blame everyone else, we need to take a long hard look at the condition of our own soul.
The truth is, this has been a pattern of God’s people over and over. In His kindness, God chose for Himself a people whose response was to be that they served Him alone and lived as an example to other nations of how we are to live with and before Him. Initially, those people were of a specific ethnicity but even a cursory reading of the Bible will show us that the relationship with a people was never going to be confined to an ethnic minority. Rather, God’s love and blessings were for all mankind and all peoples everywhere. But that wasn’t enough for the people. They continually turned their backs on God. Over and over they disobeyed Him. Over and over they turned to other gods and worldly pursuits. Over and over God sent His prophets to call them back. And still the people turned away from Him. And so, He gave them over to the consequences of their choices. Death, loss and exile followed.
And then, God did something unthinkable and unimaginable.
God Himself, in the second Person of the Trinity, took on flesh and became one of us. He gave Himself for humanity, that we might be restored to a right relationship with our Creator. And still, He was rejected.
If we’re being honest, we must admit that we are the same. We look back and say, “How could they have done that?!” We are no different.
We look exactly the same as the world. In fact, most people who claim to be Christian live their lives in pretty much the same way as most non-Christians.
We have continually turned our backs on God.
We have continually disobeyed Him.
We have continually turned to other gods and worldly pursuits.
Over and over God has sent His prophets and still we have turned away.
He came Himself in the person of Jesus Christ to again call us to faith and repentance.
Still we have turned away. We have become so worldly in our own way. We have turned away from what God has said is sinful and embraced sin in our own lives. We have rejected His exclusive claim on our lives as His people. We have said that what God says is wrong is right. We have done this. Is it any wonder now that God has given us over to the consequences of our choices and disobedience? Is it any wonder that now loss, death and exile have followed?
God is not silent. He has spoken but we have disobeyed.
So, what are we to do? How do we right this ship?
We look to Holy Scripture. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (DR) tell us,
“And my people, upon whom my name is called, being converted, shall make supplication to me, and seek out my face, and do penance for their most wicked ways: then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.”
People of God, brothers and sisters, do you not yet see? Be converted to God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. Make supplication to our loving Father. Seek His face. Do penance for your wicked ways and He will forgive our sins.
The prophet Joel (2:13) exhorts us,
“And rend your hearts, and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil.”
Rend your hearts, brothers and sisters. Repent and turn to the Lord our God. Let us return to the true worship of the One true God and the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Fall on your face and turn to God.
He will be gracious.
He will be patient and rich in mercy.
He is ready to turn from His chastisement.
Oh, turn again, Church, to Christ! The world cannot save you. Being “woke” won’t save you. Being relevant won’t save you. Only Jesus can do that.
Turn to Jesus.
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