daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Saturday, 12th Week of the Year, June 28, 2014
Lam. 2:2, 10-14, 18-19, Ps. 73, Matt. 8:5-17

Scripture quotations are from the RSV unless otherwise noted.

"The Lord has become like an enemy, he has destroyed Israel; he has destroyed all its palaces, laid in ruins its strongholds; and he has multiplied in the daughter of Judah mourning and lamentation" (Lam. 2:5).

When Jerusalem fell to Babylon in 587 BC, the city was destroyed, its wall torn down, the temple burnt, and the king and all the leading men were exiled to Babylon or killed. The book of Lamentations speaks of this destruction and interprets it not only as the work of Babylon, but much more importantly as the work of God himself, of Yahweh, of the God of Israel. God himself, says Lamentations, destroyed the holy city of Jerusalem and its temple. "The Lord has become like an enemy, he has destroyed Israel" (Lam. 2:5). All this happened because they did not listen to their prophets, but rather disobeyed them and worshiped false gods. Jeremiah prophesied all this ahead of time, warning the people that the temple would be destroyed if they do not listen to the truth that he is prophesying to them and abandon their idolatry. "And now, because you have done all these things, says the Lord, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer, therefore I will do to the house which is called by my name, and in which you trust ... as I did to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight" (Jer. 7:13-15). But the people paid no attention to Jeremiah, so finally the temple and the city were destroyed by God himself, and the people were exiled to Babylon as a punishment.

Although the Babylonians did all this, the word of God today explains that it was really God himself who did it in order to punish his people for their infidelity. "The Lord has destroyed without mercy all the inhabitants of Jacob; in his wrath he has broken down the strongholds of the daughter of Judah; he has brought down to the ground in dishonor the kingdom and its rulers" (Lam. 2:2). "The Lord has determined to lay in ruins the wall of the daughter of Zion" (Lam. 2:8).

There were also false prophets who deceived and misled the people, telling them that they would not be destroyed. These false prophets did not point out to the people their sins nor call them to repentance, and the people followed them to their own destruction. "Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes, but have seen for you oracles false and misleading" (Lam. 2:14).

In the people of God today, the Church, there are also prophetic voices warning us of the danger we are now in. But how many pay them any attention? Like Israel, most prefer to listen to the false prophets in our midst who do not point out our faults or call us to repentance. They prefer to follow their false gods. What is their false god? It is the secularization of the Church, of the priesthood, and of religious life. Many imitate the world in its worldliness and secularized lifestyle. Many have become secularized and gone astray. And what is the result? The present disastrous vocations crisis. The death of many religious orders is now imminent. If we do not listen to the true prophets in our midst, these orders will disappear in a few more years. And when it happens, it will be the punishment of the Lord for not listening to our true prophets, repenting, and changing our ways.


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