Day 179: Blinded by Comfort

2 Kings 11:1-20 Athaliah, mother of the slain king Ahaziah of Judah (SOUTHERN KINGDOM) assumed the throne and sought to destroy the Davidic line, but one infant son of Ahaziah, Joash, was spirited to safety in the Temple so as to keep God’s promise alive. When he was seven, he was anointed king secretly by the priest Jehodiah, and Athaliah was slain when she happened upon the ceremony. With Jehodiah’s urging, the people renewed the covenant with God and destroyed the house of Baal.

Ch 12:1-21 When he came of age, Joash used the Temple offerings to perform necessary repairs to the building; however, he failed to eradicate idolatry from Judah, as the pagan Canaanite towers and pillars remained. Eventually he was assassinated in a coup.

Amos 4:1-13 The women of Samaria were reproached for encouraging their husbands to engage in treacherous acts of pillaging so that they might live in comfort. Israel was chided for its idolatrous worship at the shrines of Gilgal and Bethel where statues of golden calves had been erected. The Lord reminded Israel of his many demonstrations of love in eliciting their repentance, but to no avail. Even the severe punishments imposed on the Chosen People did not result in full repentance and conversion.

Ch 5:1-25 Amos reiterated the Lord’s call for repentance and justice. The only hope for Israel’s restoration was conversion back to God and his laws. Otherwise, they would be doomed to oppression and a life of turmoil. 

Ch 5:14-15 Seek good, and not evil, that you may live: This exhortation is strongly reminiscent of the words of Moses recorded in Deuteronomy (6:2; 30:19). Choosing God’s Commandments over sinful actions is equivalent to choosing life over death. (CCC 309-311, 1706)

Ch 5:21-25 God does not desire the performance of mere external rituals such as burnt offerings but the interior disposition to choose habitually to keep God’s laws. For religious worship to be pleasing, it must be accompanied by interior dispositions of love for God and neighbor. The paramount importance of charity and compassion are expressed by the words, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13, 12:7; cf. Hos 6:6). These verses serve as an ideal instruction to prepare for the coming of Christ and the establishment of his New Covenant of grace and charity. (CCC 1435, 2100)

Ch 6:1-14 These words contrast the wealth and luxurious lifestyles of a few with the multitude of downtrodden people in desperate need of the basic necessities for a dignified life. Wealth in itself is morally neutral. Riches are a source of evil, however, when used to satisfy greed and separate the heart from love of God and neighbor. Those blessed with an abundance of material resources are especially obligated to assist those less fortunate. (CCC 1723, 2552)

Ch 6:12 Justice into poison: St. Francis de Sales used this phrase to demonstrate the effects of a corrupt and sinful heart: “There are some bitter, sour hearts, debased by sinful nature, which poison and debase everything they touch. As the prophet says, they have turned justice into poison; they judge others severely and without clemency. These people need to place themselves in the care of a good spiritual physician.” (Introduction to the Devout Life, 28)

Psalm 122 For ancient Judah (SOUTHERN KINGDOM), Jerusalem served both as the religious center and a political capital, thus uniting the tenets of Jewish faith and morals into civil governance. Since the heart of the covenant between God and his people was moral law, the legislation of social justice effectively serving the common good was a wonderful feature of Jewish society. A good system of justice fosters peace, and it is no mere coincidence that “Jerusalem” means “City of Peace.” (Cf. Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, October 12, 2005)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven thank you. Thank you so much for your Word. Thank you for revealing your heart to us. Please receive our praise. As we pray Psalm 122, we ask that you please receive this song of praise, that we are glad when they said to us, Let us go to the House of the Lord. And yes, of course we know that the Temple, the House of the Lord in Jerusalem no longer stands. And yet, Lord God, you have made all those who are baptized Temples of your Holy Spirit. You have given us these churches. You continue to abide and dwell in Tabernacles throughout the world. We ask you to please help us to always value your presence. Help us to always seek out your face and help us to always do your will in everything. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”