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Lord, make me an instrument of your peace . . .

03 March 2015

Repent for the Kingdom is at hand

Isaiah 1

10* Hear the word of the LORD,
princes of Sodom!
Listen to the instruction of our God,
people of Gomorrah!
16Wash yourselves clean!
Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes;
cease doing evil;
17learn to do good.
Make justice your aim: redress the wronged,
hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.j
18Come now, let us set things right,*
says the LORD:
Though your sins be like scarlet,
they may become white as snow;
Though they be red like crimson,
they may become white as wool.k
19If you are willing, and obey,
you shall eat the good things of the land;
20But if you refuse and resist,
you shall be eaten by the sword:
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken!
Psalm 50
Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,
your burnt offerings are always before me.
9I will not take a bullock from your house,
or he-goats from your folds.e
“Why do you recite my commandments
and profess my covenant with your mouth?
17You hate discipline;
you cast my words behind you!
21When you do these things should I be silent?
Do you think that I am like you?
I accuse you, I lay out the matter before your eyes.
23Those who offer praise as a sacrifice honor me;
I will let him whose way is steadfast
look upon the salvation of God.”I
In the United States today, much happens that could easily remind one of Rome, circa 32 A.D., or Sodom and Gomorrah referred to in the reading from Isaiah.  We have widespread denial of any higher power that could provide moral guidance.  Instead, the prevailing philosophy appears to be a relative secularism, in which the individual decides what is right and wrong.  Although this philosophy is convenient, because no one has to think about guilt, it generates a moral decay that, like Rome, will lead to oblivion.  In general, our society appears to tolerate a libertine view of relationships, antagonism toward the natural pairing of a man and woman, no value for the individual as demonstrated by the death of millions of pre-born babies, the acceptance of legal suicide, no respect for the less fortunate people, outright antagonism toward aliens, a general acceptance of torture as a weapon of war, and the list goes on.  This condition generates an internal decay of the foundation of our society, denigrates our moral standing in the world, and makes us weak.
Many do not even believe in a God who provides moral guidance.  Many do not believe in the concept of sin.  Many do not believe in a moral structure to society.  As long as "my ego" is fulfilled, then everything is just fine.  That is the problem outlined by the passages cited at the beginning of this reflection. 
Our society needs to re-discover a consistent moral basis for our lives, one that challenges us to be better than our animal instincts upon which we currently rely for guidance.  As the scripture notes, God is merciful.  Had Sodom and Gomorrah repented they would have been saved just like Nineveh was in the Book of Jonah.  Even the Psalmist promises salvation for "the one who remains steadfast" in following the covenant.
This is what we need in the United States today: good old fashioned repentance.  A recognition that there is a code of moral conduct that challenges us to operate on a higher plane and that we have individually and collectively turned our backs on that code - we have sinned.  We need our society to renew its commitment to uplift each person's value as an special creation of a generous, gracious God.  We need to return to our ideals that all are created equal and deserving of equal participation in the liberty and pursuit of happiness that our form of government was created to provide.
No, it's not right that a few should control most of the wealth in this country.  No, it's not right that a few should be able to influence the elections in this country.  No, it's not right that millions of people are without decent housing, food, or health care in this country.  No, it's not right that our mentally challenged are left to wander the streets or be confined in our prisons.  No, it's not right that our returning military veterans are treated like second class citizens.  No, it's not right that millions are left without work or substandard work because our tax laws encourage companies to relocate their operations to other countries.  No, it's not right that a few benefit greatly from the economy and return very little, and in some cases nothing, in support of our government that makes their success possible.  No, it's not right that the budget for the Defense Department is increased so much that social programs have to be dropped.  No, it's not right that certain political parties are trying to destroy all of the social advances that we have seen over that last 100 years. e.g. voting rights, equality in education, security for our seniors. 
We are better than this!  But, alas, unless citizens take their responsibility for shaping this government by their active participation in the political and electoral processes, then we will experience a return of a ruling oligarchy - a Middle Ages society of kings, princes, and serfs; and, this once wonderful experiment that we call democracy will become as ethereal as the spring morning's fog.

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