Repent and Believe
I preached in a city once where the turn out of the people to church services was appalling. I discovered from the priests in the parish that this was normal for that part of town. At the end of the assignment, I was inclined to do what the gospel advised to the Apostles: “shake the dust from your feet.” So I took off a shoe and hit it on the side of the church building and departed. I prayed that things would change in that parish.
Sometimes the words of Jesus appear harsh and uncompromising like we find at the end of the gospel. “Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah (two wicked cities in the Bible) on the Day of Judgment than for that town.” When the message of repentance is preached convincingly and signs and wonders occur, God expects people to repent and believe. Is that asking too much of people? After all we are God’s children. We belong to him first and foremost.
The prophet Hosea mourns the hardness of heart that he found in his time. Actually all of the prophets of Israel faced the same thing. People turned away from the God of their ancestors and followed other gods. “When Israel was a child I loved him. Out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them, the farther they went from me, sacrificing to the Baals and burning incense to idols.” After all the signs and wonders that the Hebrews witnessed and passed on to succeeding generations, stubbornness of heart crept back into their lifestyle.
It is sad to witness the same thing happening in our generation regardless of the country or the religion involved. The idols of our time, e.g. wealth, power, fame, pleasure, partying, success and greed, are twisting the minds and hearts of young and old alike. The illuminati of our day, whether on campuses, in board rooms or bars, encourage rebellion and wayward living as signs of liberation and independence from rules and restraints. However, the true consequences of such behavior are slavery to sin and alienation from God.
We believers are scandalized by the immorality that is plastered on our TV screens and is readily available on line and through social media. It gets increasingly harder to shelter ourselves from the cultural decline around us. Shades of Sodom and Gomorrah. We pray continually for spiritual revival and restoration of kingdom living across the board. In some way our prayers may be keeping back the wrath of God. That much we can all do.
Fr. Michael Salvagna, CP