2 Kings 24:8-17
Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign; he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, just as his father had done.
At that time the servants of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to the city, while his servants were besieging it; King Jehoiachin of Judah gave himself up to the king of Babylon, himself, his mother, his servants, his officers, and his palace officials. The king of Babylon took him prisoner in the eighth year of his reign.
He carried off all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house; he cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the temple of the Lord, which King Solomon of Israel had made, all this as the Lord had foretold. He carried away all Jerusalem, all the officials, all the warriors, ten thousand captives, all the artisans and the smiths; no one remained, except the poorest people of the land. He carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon; the king’s mother, the king’s wives, his officials, and the elite of the land, he took into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. The king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valor, seven thousand, the artisans and the smiths, one thousand, all of them strong and fit for war. The king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah.
Psalm 79:1-5, 8-9
O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple;
they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
They have given the bodies of your servants
to the birds of the air for food,
the flesh of your faithful to the wild animals of the earth.
They have poured out their blood like water
all around Jerusalem,
and there was no one to bury them.
We have become a taunt to our neighbors,
mocked and derided by those around us.
How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever?
Will your jealous wrath burn like fire?
Do not remember against us the iniquities of our ancestors;
let your compassion come speedily to meet us,
for we are brought very low.
Help us, O God of our salvation,
for the glory of your name;
deliver us, and forgive our sins,
for your name’s sake.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”
Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
I once had a priest tell me that building a solid relationship with the Lord and prayer life was slow and steady. It did not require overnight drastic change but was grown through steady consistent progress. God never stops pursuing our souls. He doesn't come around some of the time to see if we are ready or available but is always beckoning us to come to Him. A relationship with God, like any relationship, is strengthened and increased with time and effort. As children of God, we are called to do mighty works in God's name and free others from the work of darkness, but what matters most to God is our relationship with Him. It is not enough, or even required, to do mighty deeds in God's name if you lack the relationship with Him.
How do we cultivate this relationship with the Lord? Jesus instructs in the gospel to hear the words of the Lord and act on them. First, we are called to hear the word of God. We build our relationship with the Lord by spending time with His word reading it and listening to His voice. Through slow and steady commitment to the Lord through the scripture we learn the will of the Father and how we are called to act on it.
In the same way that God never gives up on His children, the devil never stops trying to lead souls away from God. While a relationship with God is built through steady and consistent steps towards Him, a relationship is destroyed with steady consistent steps away from Him. Jerusalem was not delivered into the hands of the enemy by one fluke mistake. It was brought down by a consistent stream of immoral rulers who did wrong in the sight of the Lord.
There is a war on for your soul. God never stops calling you to Himself and the devil never stops trying to tear you away. Where are the areas in your life that you see yourself turning your back on the Lord? What are the seemingly little habits, thought processes, or actions that are probably not that pleasing to the Lord? Do you need them or can you choose a habit that will draw you closer to the Lord instead? Then, what is one small step you can make to strengthen your relationship with God? Maybe you can start your day with a quick prayer or take a few minutes at lunch to pray a mystery of the rosary. Ask God to show you what small step you can take towards Him today and every day.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for calling me to yourself and for always pursuing my soul. I love you Lord and I desire to grow closer to you and be strengthened by you. Help me to cut anything out of my life that is not pleasing to you and increase what is. Amen.