|Ahab and Jezebel plot to murder Naboth for his vineyard.|
The people suffer when the leaders are evil.
Have you seen the bumper sticker, "America, Bless God?" It makes a lot more sense than "God Bless America." In fact, a people honoring and blessing God is often a prerequisite for receiving God's blessings. Read John's letters to the churches in Revelation. "I hold this against you, though: you have turned aside from your early love...I know the reputation you have of being alive, when in fact you are dead!....I know your deeds; I know you are neither hot nor cold." Would Jesus look upon us and praise us saying "I know you hold fast to my name and have not denied the faith you have in me?" as the spirit says about the church in Pergamum? Somehow I doubt it.
We love to call ourselves "exceptional," as we murder millions of babies in the womb, champion the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, glut on porn, celebrate the fornication and adultery of our family members, and elect the most evil men and women to rule over us. Yes, we also are a generous people who help the poor, volunteer and serve; but that does not wipe away our collective guilt for rebelling against God.
Rorate Caeli has an editorial today pointing out that "We deserve Francis." As I read it, I had to agree. Read it and weep. Put on the equivalent of sackcloth and ashes (fasting and penance) and repent for your own sins and the sins of the nation. Like the churches in Revelation, we have cast off our zeal and replaced it with complacency.
Yes, we deserve Francis, and the Lord will treat us as he did the Israelites in the desert when they complained about the "wretched food" the Lord gave them and asked for meat. His response? "The Lord will give you meat for food, and you will eat it, not for one day, or two days, or five, or ten, or twenty days, but for a whole month -- until it comes out of your very nostrils and becomes loathsome to you. For you have spurned the Lord who is in your midst." (Numbers 11:19-20) The following paragraphs sum up our collective guilt. Don't just read them; read them and repent. "Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned!":
Other than resignation, missing from many spirits is the notion of collective justice -- and collective punishment. We have sinned, we have grievously sinned. So many Catholics have been for long immensely unfaithful to the Apostolic tradition they have received, to the pure doctrine that was passed on: is it surprising that from this soil arise unfaithful hierarchs? What is surprising is not that we have Francis as Pope, but that it took so many centuries for us to have a Pope like him. As it is known, the Popes who were considered "bad" and "appalling" in Catholic history never dared touch the deposit of the faith, or to mollify this deposit so it would fit into contemporary mores; they may have been personally immoral, and their example caused great scandal and grievous consequences, but their utterances on matters of faith, moral, sacraments did not themselves cause scandal (the examples of such were so rare as to be counted on a couple of fingers).Let us pray every day for true repentance and deliverance and examine our consciences daily to see how much we are part of the problem rather than the solution. And then let us pray for mercy.
We deserve Francis. King Josiah was the exception, and Judah was punished before and after him: was there not a single just man in Judah under King Amon? Was not Jeremiah alive and warning of dangers under King Zedekiah? Yet even the just were punished on this earth, collectively, by what God allowed to happen: irreverent kings, leaders who acted as if God did not exist. The just were subjected to upheaval on this earth, but it profited for their eventual eternal life: as Dante wrote in the Inferno, "O Supreme Wisdom, how great is the perfection / that you show in heaven, on earth, and in hell / and how justly you spread your virtue!"