Monday, 31 August 2015

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year B

Isaiah 35:4-7; James 2:1-5; Mark 7:31-37
Way back when the Lord took the Hebrews from Egypt through the waters of the Red Sea and promised them a land of their own he warned them that if they turned from him, disobeyed his commands and worshipped false Gods, he would take the land from them. The People were confident in their promises of loyalty and accepted the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as their God.
With unbelievable patience and tenderness the Lord led them along the way. Over and over again the people lost faith and over and over again, in his loving mercy, God forgave them. Finally they entered the Promised Land and from the very outset things started to go wrong. The People fell into the very sins the Lord had warned them about but they would not listen to him. He sent them Judges and Prophets who warned them repeatedly, prophesying awful calamities if the people did not repent and return to the Lord.
Throughout the Old Testament we hear the prophetic voice pursuing the Hebrews as they chased after their idols and deserted the faith of their fathers.
Chapter 34 of Isaiah, the chapter immediately preceding the one we read from just now, paints a horrendous picture of what awaits the treachery and infidelity of the people but before I read a little of this fearful prophecy I ask you to consider the infidelity of the people of God in our own day.
Have we not deserted the Lord? Have we not turned disobedience to our God into an art form? Have we not made our own idols and bowed down to them? Have we not turned the Law of God on its head, calling evil good and good evil? And have we not stood idly by, too preoccupied with our pleasant lifestyles, while all this is taking place?
To the traitorous Hebrews who did what we are doing in our day God said (Isaiah 34:1-3): Come near and listen, all you races, pay attention all you nations, listen, earth and all that you hold, world and all that comes from you. God is angry with all the nations, enraged with all their hordes. He has vowed them into destruction, and marked them down for slaughter. Their dead are thrown into the streets, a stench comes up from their corpses. Of the land God says: ...over it God will stretch the measuring line of chaos and the plumbline of emptiness... .
We must understand that God gave the Hebrews a land of their own precisely so that they might have a place in which to worship him and that if they refused to worship him the land would be taken from them. This, of course, is exactly what happened and it was well and truly foretold from the very beginning.
Let me admit to you that I tremble for Australia. Actually, I tremble for the whole of the Western world. The West has become a violent, blaspheming, fornicating, adulterouspornographic godless society. We prevent human life through contraception and abort tiny humans even those who have grown to full term. We legitimise sodomy and imagine we can redefine the natural law in order to raise homosexual relationships to the level of marriage. And these are only a small number of the abominations the human race throws in the face of God every day.
We have been warned. Read the Scriptures. Study the events at Fatima. Listen to the wise men and women of our day. Humanity is facing catastrophe! Whether it arrives or not is in our hands.
And afterwards? Afterwards, as is always the case, there will come a time of restoration. Then suffering humanity, having tasted in full the fruits of its own apostasy, will once again experience its need for salvation, its need for God. In that moment the words of Isaiah in today’s first reading will be fulfilled (35:3-4): Strengthen all weary hands, steady all trembling knees and say to all faint hearts, 'Courage! Do not be afraid. 'Look, your God is coming, vengeance is coming, the retribution of God; he is coming to save you.'
Is there anything we can do or is our ruin inevitable? I can only repeat what the Church repeats: repent, confess, be faithful to the Sunday Eucharist, live a good life, pray, do penance, give alms.
Nothing is inevitable so we must rouse ourselves. The world is in a state of dire emergency; don't let the apparent peacefulness in Australia fool you. If you don’t need to go to confession, if you are already faithful to Sunday Mass, if you are living a good life – then I would propose: SAY THE DAILY ROSARY! And if you are already saying it, say it better!
The Rosary has tremendous power. As one African bishop was told in a vision of Jesus only recently, it could destroy Boko Haram. We all want to hear the words of God’s promise of restoration but we must work at restoration in the only place that we can – in our own lives.
Let the wilderness and the dry-lands exult, let the wasteland rejoice and bloom, let it bring forth flowers like the jonquil, let it rejoice and sing for joy. The glory of Lebanon is bestowed on it, the splendour of Carmel and Sharon; they shall see the glory of Yahweh, the splendour of our God. Strengthen all weary hands, steady all trembling knees and say to all faint hearts, 'Courage! Do not be afraid. 'Look, your God is coming, vengeance is coming, the retribution of God; he is coming to save you.'

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