2 Kgs 17:5-8, 13-15a, 18
Today’s first reading tells a sad story. The kingdom of Israel is no more. Its armies have been defeated; its people scattered and resettled in the midst of their enemies. Worse, this desolate situation has come about through the people’s own fault. They had set aside, ignored, rejected the One who had led them out of Egypt and formed them into a specially loved nation. The final words of the passage are suffused with an aching sense of loss (if also with a faint glimmer of hope): “Only the tribe of Judah was left.”
It all happened long ago. But as we empathize with the sacred writer, the tale brings to mind innumerable contemporary instances of suffering, loss, desolation, human sinfulness. It inspires us to cry out in solidarity with ancient Israel and with our own suffering, sinful world: “Have mercy on us, O Lord; do not forsake us; convert us, O God our Savior.” We do so, however, not despairingly, but with faith-born confidence that in the darkness there is light. The paschal mystery of cross and resurrection is unfolding.
- Sr. Mary O’Brien, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Sisters’ community in Union City, NJ.