Concern For The Culture
(Same Day) Twenty-Fifth Week of Year II Wednesday September 21, 2016
The Responsorial Psalm proclaims that God’s word is a practical guide for living: “Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet” (Psalm 119).
Proverbs 30: 5-9 asks for preservation from false thinking — and from the kind of situation that would lead to it: “Give me neither poverty or riches… for fear that… I should fall away….”
Notice that the real fear here is of not being aware of and acknowledging God. Riches can make one ignore God or even dismiss him: “Who is the Lord?” Extreme poverty can lead one to “profane the name of the Lord” in anger and bitterness.
This is why we work, as stewards of the kingship of Christ, to bring about a just society. The truth is, environment does affect attitude. To form people in the attitudes and values God teaches we need to create an environment, a society, “of truth and life… of holiness and grace… of justice, love and peace.” That is, we need to establish the kingdom of God on earth.
For this we must work to change some attitudes and values that everyone takes for granted. How “American” is it to pray, “Give me neither poverty or riches!”? Isn’t it an underlying assumption in families and schools, in what is celebrated and advertised in the media, and in the conversation of all around us, that it is normal to want to be at least as rich as our parents were? As stewards of Christ’s truth we must keep recalling the guideline, “Your word, O Lord (not the culture) is a lamp for my feet.”
In Luke 9: 1-6 Jesus sends his disciples out to “proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.” For this he gives detailed instructions about living a prophetic lifestyle: “no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money” — not even a change of shirt! To heal others of false attitudes and values we have to be visibly healed ourselves. Jesus himself acknowledged the proverb, “Doctor, cure yourself!” (Luke 4:23). We say “charity begins at home” — and so does change.
It is much easier to enlist people to work for changes in the environment than to work on changing themselves. People will engage in projects more readily than in prayer. The “apostolate” is more appealing than “asceticism.” And rallies draw more people than retreats. But to be effective (and authentic) stewards of the kingship of Christ we first have to take seriously our own spiritual growth. Otherwise we are flying blind: “Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.” It must abide in our hearts (John 15:7).
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