Monday, July 30, 2012

MEDITATION ON THE HUMAN CONDITION

Eternal Optimist writes his children periodic emails, short meditations on the daily scriptures read in the Catholic Church.  This one was from July 28, 2012, Saturday.  It turned into a meditation on the human condition. 

Today's readings are drawn from Jeremiah 7, Psalm 84, and Matthew 13.  You may read them here.

Jeremiah receives a message from the Lord, directing him to stand at the gate of the temple and tell the people "Reform your ways and your deeds. . . Only if you thoroughly reform your ways and your deeds; if each of you deals justly with his neighbor . . . will I remain with you in this place."

Jeremiah warns the people against putting their trust in "the temple of the Lord! the temple of the Lord! the temple of the Lord!"

This is a warning to us, as well.  Religious practice is a good thing, but not enough.  The Lord wants our lives.  He wants us to deal with our neighbors justly.  Our "religion" is worthless unless it changes us for the good.  It is of no use unless it results in love toward our families, friends and neighbors.  It is quite disgusting to be a "religious" person who mocks God by mistreating the people around him.  Jeremiah asks if we think God's temple is a "den of thieves?"  Do we think God does not see us for who we are? 

But here's the tough part.  It is easy to see the hypocrisy in others.  Seeing our own blind spots is much more difficult.  Our eyes look outward, not inward.  How do we invert our eyes so that we can see our own souls as Christ sees them?

All humanity is subject to the truth of the parable in today's gospel.  Jesus tells of the farmer who sows good seed in the field, goes to sleep, and wakes up to find that an enemy has sown weeds among the good seed.  The servants ask the farmer if they should pull up the weeds, but he tells them not to, because they may destroy the wheat in so doing.  He promises that at the harvest he will have the harvesters separate the weeds and burn them, and then gather in the wheat.

The truth of this parable applies in each individual heart, as well.  There weeds grow along with the wheat.  The roots of the weeds circle around our hearts, and are intermingled with the roots of the wheat, so that God refuses to act in his power to "pull up the weeds," lest he crush the life out of us. 

Yet in the person of Jesus the Lord asks us to let him disentangle the weeds and the wheat gently, so that he can claim our hearts. 

How do we do this?

Today's Psalm provides an answer:

How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!
My soul yearns and pines
for the courts of the LORD.
My heart and my flesh
cry out for the living God.

Blessed they who dwell in your house!
continually they praise you.
Blessed the men whose strength you are!
They go from strength to strength.

I had rather one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I had rather lie at the threshold of the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

Our time in the Lord's dwelling place is time when our hearts grow toward the light of his love.  We are "blessed" there.  We go from "strength to strength" - His strength becomes our strength.  And however you are situated in God's house - whether you merely lie at the threshold, like the beggar Lazarus in one of Jesus' stories - you will receive life.  And however briefly you are in the Lord's house, you will receive life: "I had rather one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere."

It is so difficult to see inwardly.  God our Father loves us with all his heart, in all his truth and justice.  In truth, none of us is satisfied with love that is blind to our weaknesses.  That is a perilous love, sure to be shattered when it awakens from its dullness and sees us for what we are. 

Neither do any of us truly want a "love" that justifies our injustice, that coddles our selfishness.  Because we know in our deepest beings that this is not love.  A "love" that tolerates selfishness and injustice is no love at all, but a temporary alliance, like a "den of thieves." It exists so long as our selfishness and injustice are directed elsewhere.  We know in our hearts that in the end our selfishness and injustice will turn on our den-mates, and theirs on us.  And that is the day they will not be our "friends" any longer.

The Lord gives us a place we can go and see ourselves for what we are, without dying of shame.  It is a place where we are loved unconditionally, but not blindly, given true hope, not false pride, and given strength to change, not rationalizations for our sins.  It is the place where the weeds get disentangled from the wheat.

That is why the Lord lived and died for us.  That is why he instituted the Eucharist, appointed the Apostles, gave us Confession, and gave us the Holy Scriptures.  He gives us the means to change, to gently pull out the weeds and to nurture the wheat in our lives.

I tell you to go to Church because I love you.

5 comments:

  1. Good one. A lot to ponder.

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  2. EO you truly inspire me! Can there be any end to meditating on the human condition?
    Having just finished The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn I am predisposed to revisit the prophetic writings of Isaiah and Jeremiah. In my old age I have grown more skeptical of my premillennial upbringing, nevertheless, I find I cannot completely reject this hermeneutic out of hand.
    The reading from Jeremiah 7 speaks to me of an America that would not be in the moral and economic crisis it is today had people occupying the Christian churches of our land over the last few generations been more faithful to the Gospel.
    No doubt some were, but many in the church today are just like the people of Jeremiah 7. They condone shedding the blood of innocent babies. They trust in the deceitful words of politicians trading false hope for votes, and preachers offering ear tickling’ justification for a lifestyle that “seemed right in their own eyes”.
    Not satisfied with a God who would meet their needs, they pursue false gods whose sole purpose is to serve them and ensure their ultimate happiness, in other words, gods, like genies in a bottle, who offer hope of fulfilling their lustful desires. They grew to depend on their own strength and abilities – abandoning God – trusting their eternal safety to the church of their religion.
    And yes! Their religion was there for all to see. A skeptical world saw the piousness and hypocrisy and despised it while many genuine truth seekers entered in for a time only to be carried away after a season, defeated, overcome, often angry, and full of contempt for a church reticent to reform way or deed.
    Clearly Jeremiah was speaking to the nation of Israel but could he also be prophesizing about contemporary “Christians” who think they are safe because they come before Him as a member of a group that bears His name?
    I think so. Moreover, I fear our great nation is under judgment for turning away from God but the government was not alone in rejecting Him, the church is guilty as well because in large part, the church in America has become a place where the lost will find too much religion and not enough love. Unless the church turn it’s heart back to God, the nation never will!
    I am reminded of a quote in The Harbinger. Towards the end of the book, the Prophet speaks to Nouriel saying, “There is no religion in Heaven, only love…”

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  3. I agree that change has to start in the church. And I think the earthquakes in the church are a good thing, not a disaster. The earthquakes are the outcome of underlying problems, and usually represent the truth erupting like a volcano. Thank God for earthquakes.

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  4. Adrian G (Scotland)August 7, 2012 at 3:50 AM

    This is beautiful and sincere.

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