FRIDAY OF THE TWENTY-SIXTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
During the Babylonian captivity, the exiles prayed:
"Justice is with the Lord, our God;
and we today are flushed with shame,
we men of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem,
that we, with our kings and rulers
and priests and prophets, and with our ancestors,
have sinned in the Lord's sight and disobeyed him.
We have neither heeded the voice of the Lord, our God,
nor followed the precepts which the Lord set before us.
From the time the Lord led our ancestors out of the land of Egypt
until the present day,
we have been disobedient to the Lord, our God,
and only too ready to disregard his voice.
And the evils and the curse that the Lord enjoined upon Moses, his servant,
at the time he led our ancestors forth from the land of Egypt
to give us the land flowing with milk and honey,
cling to us even today.
For we did not heed the voice of the Lord, our God,
in all the words of the prophets whom he sent us,
but each one of us went off
after the devices of his own wicked heart,
served other gods,
and did evil in the sight of the Lord, our God."
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 them,
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But at the judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades.
“Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”
When we read about the horrible punishments that befall those who go their own way and reject God, we cringe wondering what it takes to get some people to follow the Lord and love him. We also cringe thinking about how easy it is in our human nature to feel as though we could be included in the group of rebels who do not repent adequately from our sinfulness.
Sometimes we do have to set up a mental barrier saying within ourselves, I do not want to be included with the unfaithful or the mockers. I do not want the curses that befell my ancestors to come upon me or my children.
We are all sinners and we know that we must rely on the Lord’s sacrifice and forgiveness. It is through the wounds of Christ and his forgiveness that the Father sees those of us who are covered in his blood and washed with the waters of baptism. Our painful feelings of guilt and shame are only eased when we make a conscious effort to accept the love and grace of the Lord and understand that forgiveness and healing is for us. Never can we ever cease to proclaim God’s goodness and mercy as long as we are in our mortal bodies with the lure of the world, the flesh and the devil.
Today we join with the psalmist and pray from our hearts, “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and forgive our sins, for your name’s sake.”