Prophets of Dynamism or Doom
Thursday: Twelfth Week of the Year: June 23, 2016
Year II: 2Kings: 24:8-17; Psalm 79:1-9; Matthew 7:21-29
The Responsorial Psalm vividly describes the invasion and destruction of God’s holy city. Still it encourages us to keep praying, “For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us” (Psalm 79).
2Kings 24: 8-17 records the beginning of the end for Jerusalem and Judah — at least until the end of the Babylonian exile.
Jehoiachin became king of Judah, but “he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, just as his father had done.” The predictable took place: King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon besieged Jerusalem, took Jehoiachin prisoner, and carried off all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and “all Jerusalem,” all the officials, all the warriors, ten thousand captives, all the artisans and the smiths; no one remained, except the poorest people of the land.
When we see the history of God’s People in “fast forward,” we wonder that they could be so stupid! Every time they abandon the way God taught them, they bring disaster on themselves. But they never seem to learn.
Before we get too judgmental, we should ask what we ourselves have learned — as individuals and as a nation. Do we clearly see that by pursuing the false values and shortsighted goals of our culture we are destroying ourselves and the way of life we cherish? Do we see greed and unrestrained indulgence as unpatriotic? Do we call government cover-ups, “spin,” and foreign policies of exploitation and violence acts of treason that betray the common good of the nation? Do we know that prosperity and peace are unattainable over the long run without observance of God’s law? If not, we are as blind to the lessons of history as the Jews were.
God sent prophets to warn his People. Has he sent Pope Francis to us to warn us against the abandonment of utopian dreams for our society? Utopian dreams are the only ones that are realistic if we want to survive.
The just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labor is not mere philanthropy. It is a moral obligation. If we want to rethink our society, we need to create dignified and well-paying jobs, especially for our young people.
To do so requires coming up with new, more inclusive and equitable economic models, aimed not at serving the few, but at benefiting ordinary people and society as a whole. This calls for moving from… an economy directed at revenue, profiting from speculation and lending at interest, to a social economy that invests in persons by creating jobs and providing training…an economy that guarantees access to land and lodging through labor…
I dream of a Europe:
- that is young, still capable of being a mother: a mother who has life because she respects life and offers hope for life.
- that cares for children, that offers fraternal help to the poor and those newcomers seeking acceptance because they have lost everything and need shelter.
- that is attentive to and concerned for the infirm and the elderly, lest they be simply set aside as useless.
- where being a migrant is not a crime but a summons to greater commitment on behalf of the dignity of every human being.
- where young people breathe the pure air of honesty, where they love the beauty of a culture and a simple life undefiled by the insatiable needs of consumerism,
- where getting married and having children is a responsibility and a great joy, not a problem due to the lack of stable employment.
- of families, with truly effective policies concentrated on faces rather than numbers, on birth rates more than rates of consumption.
- that promotes and protects the rights of everyone, without neglecting its duties towards all.
I dream of a Europe of which it will not be said that its commitment to human rights was its last utopia.
(Address when receiving the Charlemagne Prize, 6 May 2016).
In Matthew 7: 21-29 Jesus warns us: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand…. It fell — and great was its fall!”
Does that make us read and reflect on God’s word as if the quality of our lives depended on it? Does it makes us want to minister to others like rescue workers after a hurricane or during a flood? Do we really believe that if we love others and want them to be happy, the best thing we can do for them is teach them to know and love God? Do we even minister to our own children this way, convinced this is more important than providing them with a money-making education?
If we are failing, the Scripture still encourages us to pray, “For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.”
Initiative: Give God’s life: Be a “priest in the Priest.” Offer people what they really need for happiness.