woe to those who call evil good
but that is exactly what we have done.
we have lost our spiritual equilibrium
and reversed our values.
we have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
we have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
we have killed our unborn and called it choice.
we have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
we have neglected to discipline our children
and called it building self esteem.
we have abused power and called it politics.
we have coveted our neighbor's possessions
and called it ambition.
we have polluted the air with profanity and pornography
and called it freedom of expression.
we have ridiculed the time-honored values
of our forefathers and called it enlightening.
search us, Oh, God, and know our hearts today
cleanse us from every sin and set us free. amen
minister Joe wright of kansas 
A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest! In 6 short weeks, Central Christian Church, where Rev. Wright is pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls responding negatively. The church is now receiving international requests for copies of this prayer from India, Africa and Korea. Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on his radio program, and received a larger response to this program than any other he has ever aired.
(Sorry to the owner of this painting)
Blame this guy for my politics.
I love this guy, but not in that way. Blame him for how I regard the poor in our midst. Although I consider myself poor, too, I am talking here of the unbelievably poor, the scandalously poor. This is already beyond victimhood.
Blame the guy because he has changed me. I just can’t sleep while there are people scouring the garbage dump for food, street-children risking themselves in the streets for a few coins.
This stance can be easily mistaken as leftist, Marxist, liberation theologist. But no, this guy taught me to thirst for justice, yes, but in peace.
There’s the rub. That’s the difference. In peace.
How do I that? Frankly, I don’t know how. It’s so easy to be angry. And it feels good to blame others, to blame the poor themselves, and then to acquit ourselves, when all of us most likely have contributed to this mess. A society that bears such graphic evidence of how low it has sunk is one guilty society, a society deserving of the very violence it has inflicted.
I don’t know, maybe this guy can show us the way. It would be good to discern his formula. Or maybe it’s too intricately complex already for us to entangle anything, to ever come anywhere closer to how would have wanted it.
But the problem is he wants us to always hope and for things to be done in peace. Maybe that means leaving all the job of justice to him? I don’t know. What’s important is immediately freeing up anyone from the yoke of dehumanizing poverty. It’s not fair to allow these things to happen. It’s not fair, not the least to any human being of whatever faith or political persuasion.
As Christians with an eternal calling, we don’t quite belong in this world. Neither are we at home yet with the Lord.
This paradox brought me into a deep depression once, because it made me realize that suffering will never ever leave us. The threat of pain and loneliness will be a constant companion.
My complaint was: I didn't ask to be born -- why should I share in the suffering, as a consequence of Adam's fall from grace, or as punishment for my forebear's sins? I wasn't there when Adam fell; why should I be held party to his crime?
But I had to accept the harsh reality of God's brand of justice; what seems unfair can be actually very fair in terms of divine wisdom. It made me also realize that therein lies the very challenge of Christianity. It is not a religion for the weak-kneed.
For it takes a lot of courage to believe, to have faith, to hope, even against hope. Note how this reflection articulates the attitude expected of a Christian:
But [remember] that God does desire to answer our prayers and console us in our uncertainty. A time of salvation is coming, and the mighty Lord will come to our aid.
I love the number seven because my birthday is on a Sept. 7. In the Bible, seven is a magic number. I cut and paste this one to do the explaining:
Monday, March 12, 2007
2 Kings 5:1-15
Why did Elisha tell Naaman to wash seven times in the Jordan River? Why not six, or eight, or just once, for that matter? Its true that in Scripture, the number seven represents completeness. The world was created in seven days, and the Sabbath falls on the seventh day. Nevertheless, we might still wonder, why did he have to repeat this action so many times?
Not until we look more deeply at what Elisha was asking of Naaman do we realize why it is significant. Elisha wasnt just going to stretch out his hand and heal Naaman; he required something from him. He was asking Naaman to be humble and patient, and to follow his request no matter how difficult it might be for him. He wanted Naaman to act on the belief that the God of Israel was in control.
In the same way, God often asks something of us that will help bring us in touch with his healing power. When we go to Confession, for instance, we may bring certain instances of sin—and of course we will be forgiven. But if we want to be freed from the grip of a sinful habit, one trip to the confessional may not be sufficient. We may need repeated washings through Reconciliation. We may need to repent of underlying attitudes that have given rise to this pattern. Or perhaps we need to take a proactive stance, avoiding the occasions in which we are most vulnerable to the sin.
Weve all dealt with persistent patterns of sin. Perhaps we are gripped by a tendency towards impatience or anger. Perhaps we constantly find ourselves complaining or gossiping. Whatever our transgression, we should not be discouraged. Jesus told us to forgive seventy times seven times, so we know he understands our weakness and is with us in our struggle.
Remember, too, that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is about more than simple pardon for our sins. Jesus wants to pour out healing every time we confess. Like a good doctor, he knows that our healing may require patience and persistence. Not all medicines work immediately, after all.
Father, I praise you for your unfathomable mercy! You forgive me no matter how many times I fall! Pour your healing power on me that I may grow in your love and grace!
Psalm 42:2-3; 43:3-4; Luke 4:24-30
Fr. Steve Tynan, in today's Companion, notes how God saves people who choose to convert at the end of their life, but won't save upright people who rebel in the end. This observation makes me sad; what a tragedy, what a total waste for the end-stage rebel, the late bloomer rebel. How unfair! He could've made his entire life a life of total rebellion if that's the case. But God has His reasons; He is no doubt always fair. It's just that it's far more logical to me to find that a soul is always given a last chance, even after death, to decide which side he is on, that, at the end of one's travel, he'll face the ultimate angel-versus-devil squareoff, and that his choice won't be dictated by circumstances but his own personal once-and-for-all decision on whether he wants to be saved or not. Then again, if you think about it, the very existence of this ultimate squareoff also does not depend much on whether you've been upright all your life or not; the thing is it is supposed to come inevitably.
But Fr. Tynan's observation is totally Biblical, after all. Here's the 'offending' passage:
Friday of the First Week of Lent
Psalm: Friday 7
Thus says the Lord GOD:
If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed,
if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.
None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him;
he shall live because of the virtue he has practiced.
Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked?
says the Lord GOD.
Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way
that he may live?
And if the virtuous man turns from the path of virtue to do evil,
the same kind of abominable things that the wicked man does,
can he do this and still live?
None of his virtuous deeds shall be remembered,
because he has broken faith and committed sin;
because of this, he shall die.
You say, “The LORD’s way is not fair!”
Hear now, house of Israel:
Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?
When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies,
it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.
But if the wicked, turning from the wickedness he has committed,
does what is right and just,
he shall preserve his life;
since he has turned away from all the sins that he committed,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.
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