February 24, 2009

A People in the Wilderness

When I was a dissenting Catholic, I'd often hear and agree with those Catholics around me who would have difficulty with "the God of the Old Testament". The God of the Old Testament was too scary. He's not as loving as the God of the New Testament who gave us The Christ. Consequently, they felt the Old Testament had "nothing to say to them" and did not care to read from the Old Testament. They would call themselved "New Testament Catholics"

I've come to realize that God is God. The same God: yesterday, today, forever. I've come to realize that to split God in half based upon your criteria of how generous and friendly you think God is foolish if not downright heresy.

We hear a lot of people complain that Catholics don't read the Bible. I'd take that a step further and complain that Catholics don't read the Old Testament. Sure, maybe you read a Psalm and a few Proverbs once and awhile but when is the last time you sat down and read for enjoyment or illumination 1 or 2 Kings or Jeremiah or Genesis? Probably not too many of you have.

If your Bible studies or Catechesis were as bad as mine were, if you ever bothered to read the Old Testament it was probably in conjunction with some theologian or scholar who, also, only thinks the New Testament is worth reading and they want to use the O.T. to "prove" their argument that the Church is misogynist , racist, abusive, violent, warlike, etc. etc even before Jesus came to us and Jesus tried to overturn all that but we would not let Him blah, blah blah. Maybe, if you are "fortunate" they will make a NT parallel that will also prove how bad the Church is. You get extra credit if your first thoughts were anything having to do with sexuality and women speaking in the assembly.

If nothing else, the Old Testament (well, really the whole Bible but I'll only focus on the OT) is a fine lesson on "The More Things Change the More they Stay the Same"

I know many who cannot bear to read the OT because it's too violent and they can't relate to "those people" The presence of Christ in the NT must be a fine diversion for those people because I don't find the Passion particularly peaceful and loving nor do I have a fine time relating in an affectionate way to the people who martyred and persecuted the first Christians-including that rascal Saul and look how he turned out!

The OT doesn't skimp on the details of how far we fell after The Garden. It lays out sin upon sin. I don't believe that when Jesus appeared all the violence was removed and the cast of rogue sinners converted because it went away or was diminished in Scripture. I believe the bad conduct was not always documented because documenting about The Christ was more important at that point.

If you can't relate to "those people" in the OT and their violent ways: quit blogging, don't read any newspapers, don't watch TV because I've got bad news for you: WE ARE AS BAD AS "THOSE PEOPLE".

The Israelites in the Desert, after they were far enough removed generationally from The Exodus, started forgetting about the Lord. They quit teaching their children about the Lord. They did what was right "in their own eyes". They started worshipping other gods. They forgot about the Lord's Covenent's with their Fathers. It was never that the Lord abandoned the people. The people abandoned the Lord. His reactions, which seem extreme and, yes, unfair, are only as much as they deserved. He punished them to bring them back to Him.

How much today do we see that we, Catholics, have forgotten the Lord? Didn't so many of us quit teaching our children? Are not SO many doing what is right in their own eyes (primacy of conscience anyone?)? Don't we see Catholics worshipping other gods (New Age deities, money, goods)?

If we think the OT people were so bad and unrelatable because they worshipped Moloch by putting their live children into his burning arms for sacrifice, consider that we puncture scissors into the brains of live children pulled from the womb and vacuum out their brains. It seems to me that we are arrogant and presumptious for daring to think that we are better and more enlightened than the people in the Wilderness. If anything, we are even worse. We have something they did not. We experienced The Christ among us and little He taught us appears to have sunk in. Perhaps, we are too far, generationally, removed from The Christ and His Presence to think He mattered. Perhaps, we forgot to tell people about Him.

Sound familiar?

We can learn a LOT from the people of the OT. We ARE, in many ways, the people of the OT.

But, it's not too late. God will not forget His promises to us. We can turn away from sin, repent and believe in the Gospel. We have the Sacraments. They are waiting for us even now. We can be saved. God is waiting. He's watching and He's waiting.

But, we always fall into the same trap. Remember after 9/11 how packed our Churches were? Look around. How many that found the Lord in those days right after the World Trade Center fell, lost the Lord within a few months after that disaster, after things seemed to 'settle down'? The Israelites in the OT did the same thing. They sinned, they complained, they cried out to the Lord for help, He helped, they redeemed themselves, they had peace for a time and then they went right back into their sinful ways and the cycle started all over again.

How much better would things be for us, for our immortal souls if we stayed the course? If we never forgot the Lord is waiting right in our Sanctuaries, if we kept evangelizing and teaching our Faith, if we relied upon and believed the Authority that God appointed to us in His Church and His Magisterium rather than each of us doing what is right "in his own eyes" How short would that testament be?

They lived happily ever after.


Blogger Mairin :o) said...

Amen! A little fire and brimstone is always refreshing. Thanks.

February 24, 2009 9:12 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Thanks, Mairin! Blessed Lent to you.

February 24, 2009 9:30 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

"New Testament Catholics"???? Sounds like one of those 'start-your-own-church' deals.... ?
I will admit I have probably never read through the entire OT....but to disregard it altogether misses the point of why we needed a Savior in the first place. You read of how the Jewish people waited all those generations for their Messiah...their Advent was a lot longer than 4 weeks!
For Catholics especially (since we are SO special! :D ) the worship of God in the OT is extremely "relevant". Much of the ritual of our Mass (as long as it's reverently offered of course) is rooted in the temple worship of the OT. If we miss realizing that (which I did for many many year) we miss a lot.

February 24, 2009 10:19 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Wonderful - linking to this now...

P.S. I love the OT. That's where all the fun happens ;-)

February 24, 2009 10:44 PM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Thanks for this post -- a great reflection. I actually have been reading the Old Testament quite a bit lately, to try to educate myself in what is the largest of the two sections of the Bible. And I have been delightfully surprised! I'm reading through Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah right now, and I am learning so very much about the Fall, Captivity and Restoration of the nation of Israel. And so much of it isn't just history, but is directly applicable, by analogy, to the Church and to my own faith life.

February 25, 2009 6:44 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Chris and Mark: Exactly!

Adrienne: Alas, no bacon, but gripping reading nonetheless! LOL!

February 26, 2009 1:48 PM  
Blogger 中島美嘉mika said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

January 27, 2010 9:59 PM  

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