Immersed in Christ: June 26, 2020
Friday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
The Responsorial Psalm laments lost Jerusalem: “Let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you!” (Psalm 137).
When King Nebuchadnezzar deported the citizens of Jerusalem to Babylon “no one remained, except the poorest people of the land.” Still he left Judah a king, Jehoiachin's uncle, whose name he changed to Zedekiah. But in 2 Kings 25: 1-12 Zedekiah continues the pattern: “he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, just as Jehoiakim had done.” And that did it. “Jerusalem and Judah so angered the LORD that he expelled them from his presence” (2Kings 24: 17-20).
Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonians (Chaldeans) came back. They captured Zedekiah, slaughtered his sons before his eyes, put out his eyes and took him to Babylon. They “burned the house of the Lord… and all the houses of Jerusalem…. broke down the walls around Jerusalem…. [and] carried into exile the rest of the people who were left in the city… all the rest of the population.” Jerusalem was no more. The history of God’s People had reached its lowest point, the Babylonian exile (Psalm 137; and see Matthew 1:17).
By the rivers of Babylon
there we sat and wept,
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
let my right hand wither.
Why did this happen? Because their kings, one after another, mis-ministered to the people by leading them away from God, and because the people neglected the ministry of keeping each other faithful to God’s law. They ignored the “manufacturer’s instructions” in the way they used the life God gave them.
Are we doing the same thing — as individuals? As families? As a nation? If so, we can expect the same predictable, inevitable results: the ruin of our personal life, our family life, our civic life and freedom. We ourselves are bringing it about through the “ministry of death” — for which it is enough just to neglect the ministry of life.
In Matthew 8: 1-4 a man with incurable leprosy says to Jesus, “If you choose, you can cure me.” Jesus replies, “I do choose. Be cured.” For Jesus no evil is incurable. He will choose to save us — if we choose to approach him as Teacher and Lord.
We can’t ask God to keep us alive while we are shooting ourselves in the head, which is what we are doing when we come to him as Healer and abandon him as Teacher. To speak to God as God we have to listen to God as God. Listen, learn and obey. It is not enough to ask Jesus to choose. We have to choose. This means choosing his way of life.
Initiative: Be a priest. Take responsibility for ministering to give life.