Summary: Our culture, which has especially violated the commandment to love God by turning the Lord’s day into a market day, and has violated the commandment to love our neighbor by murdering millions of preborn infants, is clearly under judgement.
Tuesday of 17th Week in Course 2020
The Plague Year Homilies
The Church providently provides for us a series of fitting readings this year, currently from the prophecy of Jeremiah. Today we pick up in chapter 14 with what is called a series of prophecies during a great drought. Earlier in the chapter we hear that the false prophets are running around telling the Jews, whose wells and cisterns are drying up, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’ Jeremiah himself complains to the Lord that he has heard this. And God replies with terrifying words of judgement: “By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed. And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword, with none to bury them—them, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their wickedness upon them.” After that we read the words we heard today. Jeremiah, probably the most wretched of the prophets, is heedless of the Lord’s command not to pray for his people. He pleads with the Lord to remember the covenant He made with Abraham and David. He does not lie and pretend that the people have kept that covenant, but in tears he appeals to the Lord’s infinite compassion, so that rain might fall and save the people from crop failure and famine.
Again and again over the hundreds of years of the Davidic kingdom, the people and their leaders sinned with false gods and false worship. Scholars tell us that it is fairly certain that kings of Judah even set up pagan idols and symbols in the Temple of the Lord. The worst of them was King Manasseh, son of the good King Hezekiah, who essentially adopted the Assyrian pantheon for himself, and took the prophet Isaiah and had him put inside a tree and sawed to death. By the time of Jeremiah, God had simply had enough. The people were depraved and refused to repent even when afflicted with drought and pestilence and famine. They went whoring after their false gods and worship. Their city would be razed to the ground and the people carted off to Babylon, where they would finally appreciate what they had lost, and finally abandon the worship of idols. They didn’t know how much God had loved them until He withdrew totally His favor.
Jeremiah’s tale sounds much like what Christ told us about the final judgement: “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” Without repentance and conversion, sinners will be lost. But the righteous–that’s those who have repented and followed Christ–will shine like the sun in the kingdom of Christ. And understand, the righteous are not righteous from the beginning. All humans have sinned. All the saints in heaven used to be sinners, and if we want to be with them, enjoying the Beatific Vision, we need to repent and let Christ change us every day. I recommend with St. Ignatius Loyola that we all examine our conduct in the last ten minutes or so before retiring each day, dividing our just acts from our questionable ones, and make a good act of contrition for our sins and stupidities, particularly if our sin drew someone else into an evil action. Most things like that require sacramental confession and absolution.
Listen, there is in my mind no question that the Lord in His compassion always looks on what we are doing, and helps us to focus a daily judgement, not just on our own behavior, but on our community’s and nation’s behavior. I look around and I not only see all the Ten Commandments being disobeyed–that’s happened since the beginning–but people boasting about it. There’s even a whole month that the culture dedicates to the most depraved conduct, and it’s not repentance, it’s celebration. There are organizations who put together the demonstrations and riots we have seen this summer, and they did that months ago, financed by a few well-heeled Marxist leftists, with the clear intention of destroying the United States Constitution and Republic. All they were waiting for was a trigger, and they got that with the murder of a man of color in Minnesota. Now things have gotten so bad in some cities that if you yell, “all lives matter,” you are risking being murdered yourself. Our culture, which has especially violated the commandment to love God by turning the Lord’s day into a market day, and has violated the commandment to love our neighbor by murdering millions of preborn infants, is clearly under judgement.