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Actions Have Consequences

My Dear Family in Christ,

This week is Laetare Sunday, Rejoice Sunday! The Church encourages us to be light-hearted as we arrive at the midpoint of Lent. Yes, We have made it to the half-way point in our Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. It is time to take a breath, a spiritual pause, before we head into the high holy days. Last year during Laetare Sunday, no public Masses were held. The flowers were in bloom and I shot a short video in the gardens, so it is a blessing that we arrive at this moment, with public Masses, increased capacity for public worship, and the ability to simulcast to any overflow crowds downstairs in Nolan Hall.

We are focusing our attention on the first readings this Lent, for our Message Series, Promises Fulfilled. Last week we heard The Lord God promise merciful kindness (hesed) to the 1,000th generation to those who love him and keep his commandments, while punishment down to the third or fourth generation for those who hate him and refuse to walk in his ways (Ex 20:5 and Dt 7:9-10) We hear the same wording in the Psalms. “The Lord remembers forever his covenant, the word he commanded for a thousand generations…” (Ps 105:8) In fact, one of the best synopses of our theme can be found in Psalms 105 and 106. Take out your Bibles and spend some time with God’s holy Word. 

Last week, we also learned that God deserves first place in our lives. No false gods. No idols, yet often idols creep into our lives. Idols crept into the life of Israel. Sadly, we also  allow other things to creep in and take the place that belongs to God alone.

Today the Chronicler shows us that actions have consequences. Because of the people’s infidelity, because of their continued worship of false gods, the one true God destroys the temple. He abandons the Ark of the Covenant which becomes a symbol of God’s presence among his people. Today, we learn that God walks away after “the people added treachery to treachery, practicing all the abominations of the nations” (2 Chr 36:14). As the Cronciler tells it: “until the anger of the LORD against his people was so inflamed that there was no remedy. Their enemies burnt the house of God, tore down the walls of Jerusalem,  set all its palaces afire, and destroyed all its precious objects.” (2 Chr 36:16, 19) For 70 years, or two generations, the Lord walks away. 

An echo resounds from our Gospel as well (Jn 3:14-21). Oftentimes we take this passage as the famous Gospel of God’s love. “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son,” and it is that. It is wonderful and hopeful. But keep reading! “Whoever does not believe has already been condemned… And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil.” Jesus declares the condemnation of those who do not come to walk in the light of the Lord.

In other words, actions have consequences. There is no neutral ground. We are for the Lord or against him. The Lord is faithful to his covenant forever. Living a life of the Gospel is the best way to show our fidelity.

On this Laetare Sunday we take a breath to rejoice, and we remember how Lent began “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” We can take the next step to base the whole of our lives on Christ and his teaching.

God be with you!

Fr. Wilson