Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Only the One

[Nebuchadnezzar] deported all Jerusalem: all the officers and men of the army, ten thousand in number, and all the craftsmen and smiths.  None were left among the people of the land except the poor.  2 Kings 24:12-14

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.  Matthew 7:21

Considering the Good News today, I thought it might be a good idea to build our tripod on a “Prayer Rock.”  Prayer rocks are fun to make, can involve the whole family or group reunion and can help pass the time on a rainy day. It makes a great Vacation Bible School or Camp activity and helps kids remember to say their daily prayers.  They also come in handy as Palanca.  I still have the rock that a Women’s Team gave to our Men’s Team during formation several years ago.  What a great way to build a team!

  1. Search for Rocks. You need a large enough rock to fit the palm of your hand. Make sure it does not have sharp edges and not too dirty. Don't try to search for colorful rocks as you are going to paint over it anyway. Get enough so that each child or Cursillo candidate has her or his own rock.
  1. Wash away the dirt on the rocks. Thoroughly wash away any debris and grit present on the rock, especially if children under the age of 8 are participating in the activity.
  1. Paint and decorate your rock. Use bright pastel colors and paints to decorate your rock. You can also add stickers, to your rock. Recommended styles are patterns, a single bright paint, polka dots etc. Let the child or Cursillista use her/his own creativity.
  1. Write a reminder. Paint a reminder to pray with a fine paint brush. It can be a simple reminder like "Remember to pray today" to a more complex one such as a small poem. Help the child write the message if he/she cannot do so him/herself.
  1. Use the rock. The rock serves to remind young children to pray every night and after waking up. 
    • Place the rock on the bed so that the child will see it when he is going to bed.
    • The child is then supposed to say his prayers and keep the rock on the floor so that he will step on it when he wakes up, again to remind the child to say his prayers.
    • Place the rock on the bed again after saying the morning prayers.
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, attacked Jerusalem, and the city came under siege.  And to the victor went the spoils.  You cannot say that the people in Jerusalem were not warned about the coming defeat. Just a few chapters earlier in 2 Kings 20 they heard the warning but did not change:  The time is coming when all that is in your house, everything that your ancestors have stored up until this day, shall be carried off to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the LORD.  2 Kings 20:17

The parallel histories of this battle and its aftermath also are recounted in Daniel and Jeremiah.  In telling and retelling the story, we learn that the historical events happened to Jerusalem and Judah because the LORD was so angry that he cast them out of his sight.  They were warned and continued to behave as they wanted.  And we are warned multiple times as the Hebrew Bible tells us this sad story so many ways.

None were left except the poor.   Not the strongest soldiers.  Not the most faithful rabbis.  Not the richest merchants.  Not the officers and warriors. 
Not the most creative artisans or silversmiths or goldsmiths. The house set on solid rock will be known by the actions of its inhabitants. 

The trick is not to trick the Lord because your vanity and deceit will be detected. 

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.  The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house.  But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.”  (Matthew 7:24-25)

What rock are you building your foundation upon? 

Back in the sixties and seventies, the Prudential Insurance Company slogan was, “Own a Piece of the Rock.”  Prudential's logo, The Rock of Gibraltar, is one of the most recognized corporate symbols in the world. Its use dates back to the 1890s.  The related slogans "Own a Piece of the Rock" and "Strength of Gibraltar" are also still quite widely associated with Prudential. Are you building on the Pru or are you taking out insurance in the church that St. Peter set upon the rock?

Fidelity.  A nice strong noun about being faithful.  To what or to whom?  Will our lives reflect the sound and images of the Bible or of a financial services company that wants us to be more like Hamlet (“To thine own self and Wall Street be true.”) than to Jesus?

Vanguard.  Another nice strong noun about taking the position of greatest importance or at the head of the army.  That is exactly the place Jesus told us to take, right?  Oh.  No?  The LAST shall be FIRST?  How can that be?  How can we be innovative and creative in applying the lessons of the Sacred Scripture to our lives and loves?

While we are considering the unfortunate ways that the financial industry has usurped names and concepts from scripture almost like the serpents in the garden, shall we also note that the winds “buffeted” the house.  Who knew that St. Matthew would be recounting to us the name of the most famous investor of our day, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and the Oracle of Omaha?

We can all pursue these false paths to alleged riches.  However, the daily endeavor of piety, study and action will keep us from straying too far – and keep us on the right path.  

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