In a world that is growing increasingly more bizarre by the minute, believers are trying to figure out how to maintain a degree of sanity, preserve family values, survive the onslaught of government intrusion, endure a church that is off the rails, and in general — how to cope. Believers are struggling, and as the church further unravels, consternation will increase. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI recently said, “The Church is on the verge of capsizing.”
When believers get together it is often a game of, “Can you top this?” As the world spirals faster into an ungovernable mess, believers share stories that get crazier by the day that are actually true. As I sat down to write on this general theme, I saw a story on the net where the headline was, “Federal Court to rule if a monkey owns the copyright for its selfie photos.” The issue is who owns the photo rights, the monkey (thus proceeds to the zoo) or the photographer, because the monkey used his camera.
The case is actually before the nutty 9th U.S Court of Appeals (July 2017) in San Francisco. The particulars don’t matter as the general trend in our culture. The general issues are quite simple. When you take God out of the culture, this is what you get. And, we are getting more of this madness by the day.
Is anything new here? The answer is generally no, because as civilizations decline, there is a geometric increase in confusion, lack of discipline, chaos, marginalization against believers, and then violence. This is the history of mankind for millennia, and it is up for grabs who the victor will be in the coming years.
I think the partial solution to our confusion may have been given to us by our elder brothers in the faith by Yahweh Himself in Jeremiah 29. The situation is that the Hebrew people disobeyed the observance of the Sabbath, and Yahweh was clear that disobedience to the Sabbath was a serious grievance. Therefore, as a result, Yahweh told His people through the prophet Jeremiah their punishment would be seventy years in exile living in a foreign land. Seventy years is three and half generations they would have to endure for disobedience. Exile was a Divine Spanking or a nicer way of saying it, a Divine Pruning. Their disobedience cost them dearly.
Yahweh told them how they would endure the trial, and He gave them very clear instructions to follow. He was telling them this is what you must do, this is how you will conduct yourselves, and this is how you must live above all the noise for you to return from exile in Babylon. Yahweh said this is your prescription to survive as a people and as a nation. The beautiful thing here is that Yahweh didn’t send them off without any instructions. He gave them a manual for how to return from captivity to normalcy — again governed by His laws to restore the lost years.
Jeremiah writes, “These are the words of the letter which Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. Build houses and live in them, plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city, where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find its welfare….For thus says the Lord, when seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and hope. Then you will call upon me and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations, and all the places I have driven you, says the Lord…” (Jeremiah 29: 1, 4-13).
We as a country have committed abominations far worse than the Jewish people for abdicating their spiritual responsibility of worship on the Sabbath. We are fast approaching a land of desolation due to sin before God as a nation. We will have a price to pay. Here is a partial answer to the woes of believers. The above is how Yahweh said they could weather the storm while in exile and be restored. Plant, harvest, have a family, marry, be good grandparents, or in the parlance of today’s language: commute to work, go to little league, take your children to catechism, teach them in your home at the dining room table, live according to your station, build your family, frequent the sacraments, live in a community of fellowship, do the things you need to do to be in fidelity to the gospel—and avoid the things that are unhealthy and not wholesome. Maintain your identity as believers where you have been placed.
In a world that is seeking solutions, I find few people or institutions providing answers. Don’t just be the person always providing an analysis of the problems in our midst, but be the people to build viable solutions for your family, and be the alternative for a culture to gravitate to find peace of soul. Wherever Jesus walked He cured, He healed, He consoled the down and out, and He gave answers to man’s woes. The biggest social issue of the day when Jesus walked was Roman occupation. Yet, He never addressed the issue until the Pharisee’s tried to trap Him on whose head was on the coin concerning the issue of taxes. He said, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.”
It is no longer time to act as the talking heads or political pundits defining the problems: provide solutions.
Jesus, I Trust In You.