The Word of God Was Missing

26 Jun

 

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For many years, the people gathered together to worship God.

One day, a man came to the leader of the people to present him with a book that had been lost for a long, long time.

The book was read to the leader. He tore his garments. He ordered that all the people be gathered to hear the words of this book that had been missing for so long a time.

The man was Hilkiah, high priest of the Jews.

The book was the Torah, the Word of God (See 2 Kgs.22:8-13; 23:1-3).

The Word of God had been missing.

This was the reading for Mass on Wednesday, June 22.

The day before, I had read in one sitting a book given to me by a chaplain at a correctional institution. (I was visiting, not incarcerated.)

The book, “God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life,” was written by Ray Comfort, an evangelical preacher and writer.

The book’s subtitle is “The Myth of the Modern Message.” The author debunks what we Catholics have, since apostolic times, called the “prosperity doctrine,” a false and shallow approach to conversion: “Accept Jesus he will make you happy, solve all your problems and you will prosper.”

Try to tell that to Joan of Arc who was burned at the stake by our own misguided religious leaders. Try to tell that to Peter, James and Paul—and all those Catholics and other Christians who are tortured, raped, beheaded, burned alive and crucified by people who believe they serve God by these atrocities.

Ray Comfort also speaks of the loss of faith in young people—in much the same words as we speak of our own sons and daughters who have heard the clamor of the world’s own call to “happiness.”

But Rev. Comfort wrote something else that resonates with the traditional teachings of our own Catholic Church. There is no true conversion to Jesus Christ without personal awareness of one’s own sins. How can anyone claim to be converted to Christ without admitting that he or she is a sinner for whom Jesus died?

The author urges a return to preaching and teaching the Ten Commandments which can assist people in discovering and admitting their own sin and their need for salvation.

And then, for me, another A-Ha moment—or perhaps a reminder to an earlier moment of insight or lesson learned: The lesson of personal responsibility for sin does not end there, does not end with genuine conversion to Jesus. There follows the beautiful Beatitudes which direct the converted into the life that Jesus wants us to live.

Not a bad ideal, I would think, for a weekend retreat for the entire church assembly–perhaps to be followed up by a series of sermons that will reach those who did not attend the retreat and to reinforce the lesson for those who did.

Whatever we do, we cannot let the Word of God go missing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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