What Is Our Lord Saying to American Catholics?

America is going through hard times economically, socially, and politically.  Does Jesus have a message for Christians in America?  And if so, what is it?  The best place to look is the word of God.

In some respects our situation resembles that of Israel in the late sixth century B.C. whom the LORD addressed through the prophet Haggai:

You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. (Hag 1:6)

Thirty years earlier the Jews had returned from exile to the promised land and were trying to reestablish their life as a nation.  But it was rough going.  Not only did they face economic problems, but Samaritans were constantly hindering their efforts to rebuild the temple through intimidation and political machination.  The people were discouraged.

When one came to a heap of twenty measures, there were but ten. When one came to the wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were but twenty (Hag 2:16).

That sounds a lot like our stock portfolios and the value of our real estate!

What was Israel’s problem?  The LORD explains:

I struck you and all the products of your toil with blight and with mildew and with hail, yet you did not turn to me, declares the LORD (Hag 2:17).

An alternative translation of the Hebrew reads, “yet you brought nothing to me.”

Israel’s problem was its failure to turn to the Lord, its failure to put God first in their lives in very concrete ways.  They needed to repent. They needed to put worshiping God and obeying his word above the other concerns in their lives.  An earlier prophecy in Haggai explains that the people’s economic hardships were due to misplaced priorities:

You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.  Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce (Hag 1:9-10).

God’s people were focusing on their own affairs—their houses, their livelihoods, their families—all legitimate concerns, except that they were neglecting God’s affairs, the temple that lay in ruins.

In America’s present difficulties I have noticed that most Catholics and other Christians have primarily sought human political, budgetary, and investment solutions to the problems in our personal lives, government, and church.

While prudent human responses are necessary, they are secondary.  The primary solution is to turn to the Lord and to put building his house as our first priority.

Jesus is saying, “Seek me. ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you’” (Matt 6:33).

The restoration of our personal and national wellbeing won’t be achieved by the next election, no matter who is elected.  It depends rather on prayer, fasting and a change in our priorities that is expressed by a change in what we do.

Part II of this post will explore the solution in greater depth drawing on the prophet Malachi.

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15 Comments

Filed under current events, Peter Williamson, Uncategorized

15 responses to “What Is Our Lord Saying to American Catholics?

  1. Ora pro nobis Sancta Dei Genitrix. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

  2. Chris C.

    Thanks for an excellent column. Our issues are at their core spiritual, with social and political implications to be sure, but they have a spiritual cause, and require a spiritual solution. Prayer and wholehearted worship are where a committed believer should place their focus.

  3. Right on. We are a spiritually sick nation and getting sicker by the day. Our bishops could help a lot by promoting Eucharistic Adoration for every parish in their dioceses, encouraging frequent confession, and reviving many Catholic practices that have fallen into disuse such as devotions to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, etc.

  4. Ricky

    There is one serious problem with all of the above which happens to be true. The voice of some priests is but a whisper as most are keeping silent on what can be a serious prelude to God’s wrath. Why are they afraid of warning us out loud ?…

  5. Pingback: This Weeks Posts: Sunday, October 23-Saturday, October 29 « The Divine Lamp

  6. Chris

    Please, please, please don’t forget the physical response to a spiritual problem. Letter of St. James, Chapter 2, 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

  7. In my view most of the priests are lacking in courage to call a spade a spade because they have not been baptized in the Holy Spirit. Fr.Elias B. Rodrigues

    • Jay Everett

      How true……today we have a multitude of whimps in the Catholic church that includes the USCCB right on down to the local Priest. To them it is more like a job than a vocation for the Lord Jesus Christ.

  8. Pingback: This Weeks Posts: Sunday, October 23-Saturday, October 29 | St Joseph's Church Oneida NY, 13421

  9. Peter Williamson

    Dear Friends,
    Thanks for your great comments. I can see that the Holy Spirit is stirring many of us along similar lines. I agree wholeheartedly about the need for action that accompanies our faith and will say more about that in the next post.

  10. Jay Everett

    We (Catholics) are starting to sound like the TV evangelists by comparing current issues to the history of the Bible. Problem is that we have more than 50% of catholics are caed carring members only. We do not follow the will of God nor do we follow the precepts of the church. You must live your faith and in order to do that you must know your faith. If you were arrested and accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

  11. Perhaps we need to keep in mind the words of Our Lady of America. And continuously keep in our hearts Our Lady. Father Joseph at Making All Things New/Two Pillars has a recent post on the words of Our Lady of America:
    http://icxcmary.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/more-from-our-lady-of-america/

  12. John K

    I personally cannot view the troubled times we live in without looking at the morality landscape of our country. Serious sin is running rampant throughout so many of our lives and it is leaving many in spiritual and even physical ruin (look at the way in which our culture views life). 1 The 4:7-8 says: For God did not call us to impurity but to holiness. Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not a human being but God, who gives his holy spirit to you.
    As noted in the column above, the Israelites were met with trouble when they failed to turn to the Lord. It seems to me that many people today are again disregarding the Lord and not turning to him anymnore.

  13. Mouse

    If you read in the book of Jeremiah, all the things that infuriated the Lord, so that He allowed Israel to be overrun by its enemies and go into the Bablyonian exile, we are doing today, in one form or another: child sacrifice, usury, idolatry, etc. We can add sodomy, oppression of the poor. Nothing new, really, under the sun…and we can expect that our efforts will fail while we allow abominations to continue. It is not fanaticism to point out that we are doomed unless a substantial number of us repent and turn to Him… it is nothing more than acknowledging how God works in salvation history. He will allow us to be crushed so that we will one day come to our senses. Many people will suffer needlessly – that is what is so sad about the present situation – as people blindly look everywhere but Jesus for their answers…

  14. Mouse

    By the way, do those who like to insult the priests and bishops realize that you do harm to the Church by tearing down their authority? Are we praying and sacrificing for them, or are we just blowing steam? When we publicly insult our clergy, we encourage others to despise them, make their lives more difficult, and generally teach others by our bad example that they don’t have to respect authority in the Church–that all of us are basically our own Magisterium. That’s protestantism, friends!!

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