You Have to do What Seems Right to You...
...or so the common wisdom goes. But is this statement really true? This week in the daily Mass readings we find ourselves in the Book of the prophet Amos. If you're ever feeling pretty good, and want to get a slap of reality, I would recommend reading Amos. Next to Ecclesiastes, it's one of the most depressing books in the Old Testament. As God speaks to Israel through the prophet, He lists a number of offenses they have committed against His covenant. The Father warns that He no longer takes pleasure in their fine praise, beautiful liturgies, and generous offerings, and bad things are about to happen. Why? Well, as is the case with most of these "prophets of doom" we see a familiar phrase: "...and every man did what was right in his own eyes...". In no uncertain terms, Yahweh is telling them that "to do what seems right to you" is NOT the way to behave, if you wish to be pleasing to Me.
Fr, Rigobert explained in his daily homilies that we often condemn the people of Israel, when actually their behavior might have seemed perfectly reasonable and righteous to them, and even to our own 21st century eyes. Indeed, historians tell us that morals of Judaism were greatly respected by their pagan neighbors. They were seen as "good people" in everyone's eyes...except God's prophets, and this is why Jesus tells us in Matthew's gospel that we are to rejoice when others condemn us for the sake of His Name, "for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you"(Mt 5:12).
This is a hard thing for me - an avid people pleaser - to wrap my head around, and yet it is a sentiment which is repeatedly seen throughout scripture. Doing what God commands, and not what seems "right" to me, can be downright scary. Can I trust Him? In the Jewish scriptures we see Yahweh telling people to slaughter His enemies (Joshua), weep and wail in the public square (Jeremiah), and even run around naked for a few years (Isaiah). So what's a guy to do? Well, before we all start tearing our clothes off, we should remember how God speaks to us - His people - today; through His Holy Word, the Bible. There is probably no better way to get a sense of God's purposes and plans for us than reading scripture and praying for guidance. Without these tools we will most likely fall (with all good intentions) into the same trap as Israel and Judah, and just do those things that seem right to us, without consulting Him.
On this Independence Day, as I hear the arguments and confusion on the political stage of our nation which are in violation of God's Word yet praised by many, I'm reminded of one of the statements I read in Fr. Louis Cameli's book: CHASING THE DEVIL OUT OF YOUR PARISH: RECOGNIZING AND RESISTING EVIL IN PARISH LIFE, who's CD from the LA Religious Education Congress is available in the parish library (#7-06). "When someone in your church says 'We're such good people, and so well respected in our community...', beware! Be careful to check your parish's actions to see if they are lining up with God's plans and desires, as found in His Holy Word". And so, at the request of Fr. Jeff, our parish councils and clerics have been praying daily to discern and act upon of the will of God for Holy Trinity. Please join them in your prayer time as well, for we have all experienced the pitfall of "doing what seems right in our own eyes". Remember the wise King Solomon's admonishment; "Unless THE LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain" (Psalm 127:1).
God bless you as you pray for guidance in your personal life, and the life of our parish!