Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Break Up For Yourselves a New Field

By John Guerre

Israel is a luxuriant vine whose fruit matches its growth.  The more abundant his fruit, the more altars he built; the more productive his land, the more sacred pillars he set up.  Their heart is false, now they pay for their guilt; God shall break down their altars and destroy their sacred pillars.  If they would say, “We have no king” – since they do not fear the LORD, what can the king do for them?
The king of Samaria shall disappear, like foam upon the waters.  The high places of Aven shall be destroyed, the sin of Israel; thorns and thistles shall overgrow their altars.  Then they shall cry out to the mountains, “Cover us!” and to the hills, “Fall upon us!”
“Sow for yourselves justice, reap the fruit of piety;  break up for yourselves a new field, for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain down justice upon you.”  (Hosea 10:1-3, 7-8, 12)

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town.  Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  As you go, make this proclamation: “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  (Mathew 10:7)

Look to the LORD in his strength: seek to serve him constantly.  Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought, his portents, and the judgments he has uttered.  (Psalm 105: 4-5)

Prayerful reading and reflection on these readings for today has brought for me two key messages and two key challenges – how to be spiritually “in this world but not of this world,” and what does the concept of “discipleship” really mean for me.  As I read daily of terrible wars fought predominantly by young, ideologically driven and unemployed young men, and an ever-expanding social and financial inequality in our society and the world, I am struck by Pope Francis’ warning that the global economic system is near collapse because of a ‘throwaway culture’ of greed and the ‘atrocity’ of youth unemployment.  What am I to do?

In the first reading, Hosea warns the people of his time of the foolishness of gaining more and more “abundant fruit” and “sacred pillars” in life, a life centered not on our Lord God and love of neighbor, but on the accumulation of more and more abundance, building more “altars” and “sacred pillars,” and doing so with a “false heart.”  Today, we live in the Western World and an American culture that continues to be organized and driven in large part, not by love of neighbor but by the accumulation of wealth, consumerism, and ever-increasing consumption of goods and leisure.  The gap between the “haves” and the “have not’s” of our society - the poor, the sick, the elderly, the chronically unemployed, the handicapped, the immigrants, and other marginalized groups continues to grow. 

As Pope Francis says “….we have put money at the center, the god of money.  We have fallen into a sin of idolatry, the idolatry of money.”  Am I doing my part to close this gap?

In the second reading, Mathew chronicles the first occasion of “discipleship”; Jesus names His first Twelve Apostles.  The mission Jesus gives to them is: “…make this proclamation: The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  As modern-day believers and followers of Christ, we are continually challenged to discern our own calling in this modern world in which we each find ourselves – a world of family, work, parish, relationships, community, and country.  Just as the First Twelve, we, too, are charged by Jesus to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel to the world in which we live.  But how to do on a daily basis is my continuing challenge?

The good news, as Pope Francis explained in his June 13, 2014 daily Mass, is that “When the Lord wants to give us a mission, wants to give us a task, He prepares us. He prepares us to do it well, as he prepared Elijah.  The most important part of this……is the whole journey by which we arrive at the mission the Lord entrusts to us.” 

Hosea’s “new field” for me began with my Cursillo in 1969, but it was not until 5 years ago that I was invited to became active in a “fourth day” Post-Cursillo Group Reunion.  Weekly, I am now blessed to be on my journey, joining with my Group Brothers and Sisters in Christ, as we mutually continue to discern Christ in our lives and better understand through one another’s experiences, God’s unique mission for each one of us in our own families and individual circumstances. 

Given that the ultimate goal of our “discipleship” and the Cursillo Movement is “the transformation into a living Christianity of a society which had ceased to be Christian,” my suggestion is to begin “Grouping” - if you are not already doing so. Although long in coming, my Post-Cursillo – Fourth Day experience continues to be a much-needed weekly blessing in my continuous discernment of what discipleship means for me personally - in a world of false “altars and sacred pillars.”

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