Fr Louis Reflection - 4th Sunday of Lent, Year B

After listening to the disclosures which have saturated the ears of the worlds’ population this week concerning what goes on behind the closed doors of the famous; the reception and dissection of that news by pundits as to the reasons why these accusations were given such prominence; and the accusations and counter accusations between TV celebrities which seem to have captured the headlines since the famous ‘tell-all’ interview recorded on the other side of the Atlantic; one might be forgiven for being under the illusion that nothing else was happening in the world which would be of the slightest interest to the public at large. ‘And it may not be!!!’

One positive aspect of displaying one’s dirty washing in public on this occasion, was that no blood was spilt.

That cannot be said for those who were killed by the army in Myanmar during the week for challenging the army coup. That cannot be said for the destruction continuing in the Yemen where the innocent are being killed at random. That cannot be said for those in Hong Kong who are being sent to China for trial because they marched for freedom. That cannot be said for the incursion by rebels in Mozambique who are determined to impose Sharia Law and are abducting and killing people at will. Africa currently is at war with itself. In 2019 in Sub-Saharan Africa there were 15 countries at war! And that’s on just one part of the African Continent.

It’s all very well and good for the glitterati to cry ‘foul’ when their lives are not in danger from violence, but their actions overshadow the injustices that have occurred in my lifetime which still haven’t been resolved. How many people remember what happened in Bhopal in India between the 2-3 December 1984? A gas leak! Over 2,000 people were killed at the time, and subsequently another 15,000 to 20,000 are estimated to have died as a result. The suffering suffer still, and as for compensation!

The question is, is the world a better place that it was in 400 BC when the Book of Chronicles was written? Purely as a matter of interest, in the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Chronicles is the very last work. However, in today’s passage the chronicler tells of the corruption in society which was pandemic at the time.

As you have heard, God sent them Prophets to change their ways, but they despised the messengers of God resulting in the country being defeated in war, the Temple destroyed and the people were deported to Babylon. Slavery! As you know, after 70 years, ‘the Lord roused the spirit of King Cyrus’ who rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem and freed the Israelites. That is the nature of our merciful and compassionate God. Is that what is lacking in today’s societies, mercy and compassion?

Thankfully we have a modern prophet, who has just spent three days in Iraq, the first Pope to set foot in the land of Abraham. While he was there he met the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most prominent Shia leader, a meeting which emphasised the priorities for the Church in the pontificate of Francis. In comparison with the 2 hour interview which took place in America and broadcast throughout the world, the three day Pilgrimage of Peace and Reconciliation undertaken by Pope Francis hardly had a mention. It proves that mankind has changed hardly at all since the Book of Chronicles was written, but also, what has not changed, is the attitude of God towards his people, the people of the world.

We heard in the gospel that ‘God did not send his Son into the world in order that he should judge the World but in order that the world should be saved through him.’ I think it comical that God, creator of all that is, does not judge anyone who believes in him, a God of compassion, mercy and understanding.

On the other hand, in our culture. I think it increasingly obvious that mankind more and more is judging people based on popular opinion rather than on the merits and truths of a case. Pope Francis in his book ‘Let us Dream’ writes ‘The voice of God never imposes but proposes, whereas the enemy is strident, insistent and even monotonous.’ (P 61). Perhaps the glitterati and the News Media may wish to consider that prophetic statement.

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