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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Meditation: Is Your Trumpet Rusting from Misuse?

In the Bible, the trumpet is an instrument of warning, not too different from the tornado sirens in some towns right here in the U.S. An advance warning can save lives. And that's what today's reading from Chapter 3 of the prophet Ezekiel is all about.  

Ezekiel was the first prophet called to speak for the Lord outside the Holy Land. Exiled to Babylon by King Nebubuchednezzar around 600 B.C. along with many of his fellow Israelites, he prepared the people for the destruction of Jerusalem. To a jew, such an event was unthinkable. The holy city and the temple were inviolable. But destruction was exactly what the sinfulness of God's people brought about despite the fact that many false prophets refused to blow the trumpet. Here's what we heard this morning:
"You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me. If I tell the wicked man that he shall surely die, and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked man from his way, he (the wicked man) shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death. But if you warn the wicked man, trying to turn him from his way, and he refuses to turn from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but you shall save yourself."
Wow! we aren't just advised to warn sinners; we are obliged to do so.

Of course, as with so many prophets, the people didn't believe Ezekiel until 587 B.C. when Nebuchednezzar destroyed the holy city and the temple in response to a rebellion there. You can read about it here and here. God used an evil king to punish the evil of his people. Only later would the exiles return under a benevolent king, Cyrus of Persia, who allowed them to rebuild the city.

But the point of today's reading is that we are called to be watchmen who blow the trumpet warning. This is what we didn't hear from chapter 3:
"The watchman, seeing the sword coming against the country, blows the trumpet to warn the people, anyone hearing but not heeding the warning of the trumpet and therefore slain by the sword that comes against him, shall be resonsible for his own death. He heard the trumpet blast yet refused to take warning....But if the watchmen sees the sword coming and fails to blow the warning trumpet, so that the sword comes and takes anyone, I will hold the watchman responsible for that person's death, even though that person is taken because of his own sin."
This isn't just an Old Testament command, it is directly linked to the spiritual work of mercy, to "admonish the sinner." Where does that command begin? With ourselves obviously. We should admonish ourselves every night when we examine our day and repent of our own sins. Next we need to admonish those closest to us, our spouses, our children, our grandchildren, our siblings. On Judgment Day, what will God say to a mother who says nothing to her daughter about shacking up with her boyfriend? What will God say to a father who refuses to address his "gay" son's immoral lifestyle? Will God be content with the response, "I didn't want to alienate my children?" Don't bet on it!

We must take the obligation to "admonish the sinner" seriously, especially those closest to us. If faithful witness and love can turn the hearts of abortion workers like Abby Johnson and Norma McGorvey, imagine the impact of a parent who imitates St. Monica and pursues a child with love and sacrifice.

The times are sinful and most sins, like homosexuality, fornication, and adultery, are advancing with the help of parents and friends who are afraid to blow the trumpet with their own families and close friends. They would rather have human respect here on earth than pursue the salvation of their loved ones. What a tragedy! Their trumptets are rusting out from misuse and those they love may be destroyed because of their silence.

Ask the Lord today to help you keep your trumpet shining and teach you to blow it well for the sake of those you love. Your own salvation may depend on it.

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