Saturday, August 4, 2012

. Jeremiah 26: “When Jeremiah finished speaking all that the Lord bade him speak to all the people, the priests and prophets laid hold of him, crying, ‘You must be put to death!’” What Jeremiah said was not popular because it did not affirm the ideology of those in power at the moment. The response was strong. He spoke an opinion the leaders did not want to hear, and immediately Jeremiah wa
s publicly criticized; calls were made to silence him fully: “You must be put to death!”
. Do we live in similar times? There is no amicable discourse in the public arena these days. A business leader or religious figure speaks a message that the prevailing leaders do not want to hear, and the response is immediate and powerful: silence him, quiet her, label him as a bigot, discredit her for intolerance. Would not Jeremiah’s critics have said, “If the business leader disagrees with us, let us ban that business from our midst!”
. In his day, those who held power for a time were trying to move their society far away from the traditional values of their faith and culture. Jeremiah – an ordinary person, not clergy – stood up and pointed out how wrong this direction was. Labeled a bigot and decried for his intolerance, every effort was made to push him quickly off the playing field and to paint his remarks as those of a fringe element.
. Does this bear any resemblance to our day? Have we only two polarities: far left and far right, and are we quick to label and push someone to one side or the other?
. Perhaps we should read the Bible for a more pervasive message: follow the ebb and flow of faith and culture throughout the times of the prophets, and realize that – even when faith was weak and values were lost – the people were never more than a generation or two away from a return to deep faith and confidence in God. God is never far away, and society has never totally fallen apart for those who trust confidently in God’s care and providence. The intolerance of leaders toward Jeremiah – in any age – is but one part of a longer story, and for those with faith, the story always has a happy ending.
. So, trust in God. Read the Bible. Pray. And speak the truth in love.

August 3, 2012

Msgr. William J. King

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