Listen, Choose, And Live
Friday: Twelfth Week of the Year: June 24, 2016
Year II: 2Kings: 25:1-2; Psalm 137:1-6; Matthew 8:1-4
The Responsorial Psalm laments lost Jerusalem: “Let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you!” (Psalm 137).
When King Nebuchadnezzar deported the citizens of Jerusalem to Babylon “no one remained, except the poorest people of the land.” Still he left Judah a king, Jehoiachin's uncle, whose name he changed to Zedekiah. But in 2Kings 25: 1-12 Zedekiah continues the pattern: “he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, just as Jehoiakim had done.” And that did it. “Jerusalem and Judah so angered the LORD that he expelled them from his presence.”1
Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonians (Chaldeans) came back. They captured Zedekiah, slaughtered his sons before his eyes, put out his eyes and took him to Babylon. They “burned the house of the Lord… and all the houses of Jerusalem…. broke down the walls around Jerusalem…. [and] carried into exile the rest of the people who were left in the city… all the rest of the population.” Jerusalem was no more.
By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat and wept, remembering Zion….
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
let my right hand wither.
The history of God’s People had reached its lowest point, the Babylonian exile.2 And why? Because their kings, one after another, mis-ministered to the people by leading them away from God; because the people neglected the ministry of keeping each other faithful to God’s law. They ignored the “manufacturer’s instructions” in the way they used the life God gave them.
Are we doing the same thing — as individuals? As families? As a nation? If so, we can expect the same predictable, inevitable results: the ruin of our personal life, our family life, our civic life and freedom. We ourselves are bringing it about through the “ministry of death” — for which it is enough just to neglect the ministry of life.
Matthew 8: 1-4 shows us Jesus living up to his name “Jesus — God saves” in action. A man with incurable leprosy says to him, “If you choose, you can cure me.” Jesus replies, “I do choose. Be cured.” For Jesus no evil is incurable. He will choose to save us — if we choose to approach him as Teacher and Lord.
People have the right to say to us as Jesus’ ministers, “If you choose, you can cure me.” We may not have the gift of physical healing, but we always have something to offer that will help bring people — and society — into the fullness of a holy, healthy life.
But people have to accept the way Jesus heals. We can’t come to him as Healer and abandon him as Teacher. To be healed by God as God we have to listen to God as God. It is not enough to ask Jesus to choose. We have to choose — to listen, learn and follow. This means choosing his way of life.
Initiative: Give God’s life: Be a “priest in the Priest.” Take responsibility for ministering to give life.
1 2Kings 24: 17-20;
2 Psalm 137; and see Matthew 1:17.