The Judgment of the Nations.

October 9

Joel 4, 12 - 21 + Luke 11, 27-28, memorial of St. Denis and his companions, Bishop and Martyr

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Joel pictures a great judgment day for the nations -- he singles out those in his day who were exceptionally arrogant, exploitive, unjust, and violent. Their deeds will come back upon their heads -- they have "shed innocent blood in their land." They may be powerful nations, but their time will come.

Two primary themes of this recent series of readings are: "actions have consequences", and, "those with power must be accountable for it." This flies in the face of the contemporary conversation, where we typically believe that because we are the Americans, the Americans, God's special friends, the New Chosen People, we have our own "Escape the Consequences of Our Actions" card that we can play whenever times get rough. But we are entering into a time when our ruthless bloodthirstiness and our wealth may not be what is necessary to save us. We see where Arrogance, Violence, Oppression, and Exploitation have taken us. Our sensibilities are so numbed and shell-shocked we don't recognize the signs of these times for what they are: harbingers of a series of great changes in human affairs. We have plumbed the depths of Empire, and found that there is no security to be found. Indeed, as our military Empire advances, the risks to your neighborhood grow.

Jesus today reminds us that his family is determined, not by biological relationship, but rather by our obedience -- by our actions. It is not anywhere near enough to simply say, "Lord, Lord," we must not only hear, but respond with metanoia -- a fundamental change in the way we see life, the universe, and everything. We can put "In God We Trust" on our money all day long, but it is nothing less than blasphemy in the absence of our own response of obedience to the Lord's call.

The facts that we hate to face today are: The United States of America is not a "special friend" of God, we are not the "good guys" in this world, we are the enemies of justice and mercy. We always side with the rich and the powerful against the poor and oppressed, we collect interest on our loans stolen from the rice bowls of the poor. And because of our voluntary choices, and our deeds of wickedness, we are heading for the ash heap of history, there is a place reserved for us right beside the old Soviet Union. The teleological purpose of Creation is not to bring forth an aggressive military empire on the North American continent. All life is not ordered for our convenience. We do not have an "Escape the Consequences of our Actions" card to play when the going gets really rough. Like all empires before us, we must reap the bitter seven-fold harvest that comes from sowing in furrows of injustice. (These are hard truths to hear, but we must listen to them.)

Thus, Arrogance, Violence, Exploitation, and Oppression will fall before Beauty, Wisdom, Goodness, and Justice.

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