In today’s first reading from Habakkuk the prophet accuses God of not listening and intervening in the face of violence.
“How long, O Lord! I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not intervene. Why do you let me see ruin, why must I look at misery? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and clamorous discord. (Habakkuk 1: 2-3).
This could easily have been written about our recent headlines. The horrors of mass murders in schools, synagogues, prayer meetings, night clubs, even super markets evince “man’s inhumanity to man.” Listening to the diatribes that resonate through our airwaves, we must wonder what has changed since the prophet cried out for God’s help. We have not quelled the hateful and irresponsible rhetoric that emboldens prejudice and racism. We have yet to confront the idea that people can be called enemies simply because of differences: religion, nationality, skin color, social standing, political affiliation or any of the myriad categories that we use to separate ourselves from one another.
During October the Church has directed our focus toward the need to respect life. All that lives and breathes has been created by the love of God and is infused with the breath of the Spirit. Saint Francis recognized that when he spoke of Brother Sun and Sister Moon. Saint Paul of the Cross insisted that the flowers in the garden loudly heralded the glory and splendor of their Creator!
After each act of creation, God pronounced it very good. Human beings, in particular, are made in the image and likeness of God. Yet we have polluted our skies and waters with abandon. We allow people to die for lack of affordable housing or a living wage. We have permitted the status quo of gun violence to go unchecked. How long are we going to wait for God to rescue us?
The Lord promises Habakkuk that faith will help him endure without losing heart. That message is for us too. But having faith in God’s promise cannot possibly give us permission to sit idly by. We are called to bring peace and integrity to each situation of our lives. We are called to respect every aspect of the creation God gives us. From molecule to mountain, we must protect our world from being destroyed in the name of profits and power.
The Psalmist today declares: If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts!” God’s voice is speaking to us in every facet of creation, begging us not to harden our hearts, but to cherish the precious gift of all creation that surrounds us! May we all have ears to listen!