2nd Kings 24:8-17
The Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew 7:21-29
When I was four years old my dad was electrocuted in the coal mines. His heart stopped for a while, longer than should have been possible. Another man kept him going this entire time by doing CPR until they could get an ambulance there. The road to recovery was long and hard. I remember though, that it meant he got to spend time with us. I also remember playing chess. I was never very good at chess, but what I do remember is that in order to win you need to get rid of their key players. Going after the pawns doesn't do much. Getting rid of the queen, a bishop or a rook... now that gets you closer to check mate.
The King of Babylon in the first reading knew exactly what he was doing. He didn't take every one away into exile, some of them he left behind. What he did do was take those who had influence. The politicians who knew how to run the government, the skilled foremen and laborers who knew how to plant, build, design. Anyone who would help to rebuild society was taken away, leaving only the uneducated, the poor, those who could not stand up on their own. He left the nation of Israel reeling with no leaders to stand up and lead the people out of bondage. He returned them to a worse state of slavery than Egypt could ever hope to impose. A hopelessness, a fear that left them unable to act, unable to move.
The enemy seeks to do the same to you and I every day. He seeks to use fear to instill in us doubt, hopelessness, depression and a sense that nothing can be done to make life better. He wants to take all of our virtues, our gifts, and drag them off into bondage. To repress them so that we can't see the light of day. Faith, hope and charity are the rock foundations of the society of our soul. When we begin to falter in these he sees an opening, all he needs to do is get us to instead follow despair, doubt, and hate. That's when our spiritual life begins to falter.. that's when all that is left of our own faculties are left reeling, unable to act, unable to move towards Heaven, toward's Christ who never left.
You see, just like the remnant of people left in Israel, Jesus never moved. He has always been there, waiting for us to turn to Him for help. To realize that He is the key, the Rock on which we can build our faith. A Rock that is not just passively sitting there, but which helps us to build up and turn into a rock of our own. Just like Simon Peter, who at one point gave into despair and hopelessness, to the point of denying he ever knew Christ; we too can be transformed into a new person. God offers us a new name, no longer will we be Simon, but Peter, the rock who guides others to Christ.
First though, we must become the poor. In many cases the enemy has already taken away our leaders, our craftsmen, and our laborers. He has replaced the King in our heart with one he has appointed in it's place. It's only when we let go of all those things we hold on to, all of those things that stand in the way of Christ being the center of our lives... relationships, desires, hatreds... when we become completely detached from the world and it's enticements and instead only trust in God... when we become the true poor, that's when the beatitude is fulfilled:
And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:So what is standing in your way? What has taken the place of God in your life? He's not something you just add into your schedule when you find time... but rather, He should be put in your schedule first, and all the rest should be put around Him. Christian, are you taking time to listen to Him today as He tries to lead you out of captivity? Out of bondage and into the freedom of salvation? He is offering you a Rock to build your spiritual house on.... are you taking time to set the foundations? To receive Him so that He can mold you into a solid structure? Don't be a fool and build on the sand of the enemy.
“Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God."
His servant and yours,
"He must increase, I must decrease."