I was busier than normal this past week, and so had less time to attend to reading Scripture than I would have liked. Only two passages for this, neither of them lengthy. The first is from the Book of Sirach:
14 He who fears the Lord will accept his discipline,
and those who rise early to seek him will find favor.
15 He who seeks the law will be filled with it,
but the hypocrite will stumble at it.
16 Those who fear the Lord will form true judgments,
and like a light they will kindle righteous deeds.
17 A sinful man will shun reproof,
and will find a decision according to his liking.
18 A man of judgment will not overlook an idea,
and an insolent and proud man will not cower in fear.
19 Do nothing without deliberation;
and when you have acted, do not regret it.
There are several gems of wisdom here that I found important. While straightforward, the first verse is difficult to accept. None of us likes to be disciplined (at least, I don’t- I suppose others could). Indeed, we often go to great lengths to avoid punishment. I suspect that the acceptance of discipline, of both acknowledging wrong and acquiescing to measures meant to correct it, is necessary to keep the faith. Without that acceptance, we will never really understand that actions have consequences, an understanding without which we can never appreciate the sacrifice of the Cross.
Verse 17 also spoke to me. In fact, it reminded me of those who “Church Shop.” If they are in a church that doesn’t suit their fancy because it happens to tell them that their ways, then they will go elsewhere. Eventually they will find a “church” which gives them a decisions to their liking.
The last verse is especially important- vacillation is a sign of weakness and is something we must earnestly avoid. Once we have made our choice, we need to stick with it. This ties in perfectly with the second passage today, which is from a book I haven’t covered before, Revelations:
15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.
As Christians, we cannot be lukewarm. We cannot stand on the sidelines in this world. Neutrality is not an option as a Christian, we must choose to act, and to act decisively. Sometimes that can be pretty difficult, as it isn’t always clear what the right option is. Sometimes it seems like we don’t have a choice. But we do- they may be unpleasant choices, but they are there for us to make. And verse 16 from Sirach above reminds us that those who truly fear the Lord will make righteous judgments- we will be able to tell light from darkness if we give ourselves completely over to God.
As an aside… NO Masses do not have to be awful. I have been to some that were actually quite lovely. But good grief, the bad ones are downright appalling. Even the worst Latin Mass I’ve attended was better than that travesty. The Latin might have been bad, but at least it wasn’t being screeched at you from the “choir.”