The Army of Babylon Approaches

Thursday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time (June 25)

Readings: 2 Kings 24:8-17 -- Matthew 7:21-29 -- Psalm 79

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The Church continues in these readings for weekdays in Ordinary Time to give us lessons about national security (so to speak). Jehoiachin was 18 years old when he became King of Judah, and he did evil in the sight of the Lord. His sins are not detailed, but from the context of Holy Scripture (and the lectionary readings) we can discern that not only did he worship false gods, he also engaged in oppression of the poor.

Thus, when the Babylonians were at the gate, the nation had not the will nor the ability to resist. And so he surrendered, and the entire upper and middle classes were carried away captive into Babylon, leaving only the poor behind (who thus, for once, derived some advantage from their poverty). (This saga of tragedy will continue in tomorrow's readings.)

Meanwhile, the Gospel for today is the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, with many hard sayings by Jesus. Not everybody who claims to be Christian will inherit the kingdom of God -- only those who do the will of God. People may claim extraordinary religious observance -- but in the absence of doing God's will, it counts for little. Those who HEAR and then ACT are wise; their houses are built on firm foundations. When great challenges come upon them, they will be able to stand firm and safe. Those who listen, but do not act, will be swept away in floods and storms, collapsing in utter ruin.

As the Bible says, when people heard these things, "the crowds were astonished at his teaching."

Again we remind ourselves -- what is the will of God? That the hungry be fed, the naked clothed, that justice should be our standard, that oppression should be put away, that the poor, the fatherless, and the strangers should be protected and given help (for details, read the entire Old Testament). If we do these things, we do the will of God. If, on the other hand, we preach a false Gospel -- e.g., that the poor are responsible for their own situation, that riches are a sign of God's blessing, that poor people are degenerate, etc. -- if we tell lies about the poor and blame them for problems not of their own making -- then we certainly are not doing God's will, but rather, pursuing the vanities of the age. And as we have been reminded this week, the vanity we seek is what we will become.

So let us go to our Lady of Sorrows, weighed down by grief and sadness for the sins of modernity and post-modernity against the poor. We have slandered them, persecuted them, regulated them, segregated them, oppressed them, taken the food from the mouths of their children and refused them justice. How these sins that cause the cries of the widows and orphans to rise to heaven hurt the most immaculate Hearts of Our Lady and her Son, our Lord. How great is the judgment that many nations deserve. When we lift up our eyes and see the dust of the Babylonians approaching the city, what will we do?

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