Immersed in Christ: February 14, 2020
Friday, Week Five in Ordinary Time
I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.
(Responsorial: Psalm 81)
1 Kings 11:29 to 12:19: The Mass readings (29-32) omit the explanation of how Jeroboam became king. After one failed revolt, he went into exile in Egypt. Solomon’s son Rehoboam succeeded him. The people asked him to “lighten the hard service your father placed on us, and we will serve you.”
Rehoboam took counsel with the older men... They answered, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.”
But he disregarded the advice that the older men gave him, and consulted with the young men who had grown up with him and now attended him.
They advised him to go for power:
You should say to them, “My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins. Now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.”
Predictably, the people revolted. Ten tribes made Jeroboam their king, leaving David’s family in charge of Judah and Simeon, combined into one.
The lesson is obvious. Authorities who ignore the voice of the people, and follow their little circle of advisors entrenched in power, are asking for trouble. Enlightened government, whether in Church or state, requires enlightenment by God. Catholics seek this through prayer over Scripture and the guidance of the universal Church, speaking most recently in the documents of the second Vatican Council (1962-1965), which was the last gathering of the bishops from all over the world. The Council urged bishops to seek advice and “helpful collaboration” from laity and priests alike.1
But this collaboration requires that all, clergy and laity, be disciples, people formed by prayer, study and reflection. The Council was insistent on this. And in today’s Church pastors are dealing with laity educated as never before in the history of the world.
What Mark 7:31-37 points out is the connection between hearing and speaking. When Jesus opened the ears of the deaf-mute, “he was freed from the impediment and began to speak plainly.”
The first reason why Christians cannot and do not bear witness to Christ as they should is that they aren’t really listening to him. The ones Jesus sent out on mission were those he had chosen—and who committed themselves—to be disciples; that is learners.2
If we want to speak with the words of Christ, we have to open our ears to Christ speaking. We hear him speaking in the Scriptures, in the teaching of the Church, in spiritual writings, and with the voice of the Spirit when we pray. We need to make listening part of our lifestyle. Then we are disciples.
Initiative: Choose enlightenment. Decide when you will read, reflect, consult.
1 See The Apostolate of the Laity, nos. 10, 16, 20, 28-32; Decree on Priests, nos. 7, 12, 22; The Church in the Modern World, no. 21; Pastoral Office of Bishops, nos. 16, 28.
2 Matthew 9:37 to 10:5; Luke 10:1.