JULY 17, 2012 Ė TUESDAY 5TH WEEK: ISAIAH 7:1-9 ; MATTHEW 11:20-23

Both of the texts we have heard at this liturgy treat of a theme that was fundamental to the Hebrew faith as well as basic in the life and teaching of Jesus. Faith in God and the confidence that results from it was the message Isaiah carried to Achaz in response to an explicit order by God. Many years later the lack of trusting faith in his person in spite of the striking miracles he worked caused Jesus to pronounce fearsome predictions of future woes to Capernaum, Chorazin, and Bethsaida. We can infer from our Lordís severe strictures and grim prophecy concerning the coming fate of these towns that few were those who accepted his message. Like Achaz in the days of Isaiah, these provincial people proved impervious to signs of a higher if invisible world. In refusing belief in the person of the one who spoke in the name of God and gave proof of his mission in the form of signs, these contemporaries, like the king centuries before, made self-defeating choices. In both instances faith required very real courage and involved a certain risk. Achaz was required to stand up against a formidable coalition of three rulers, the people of Galilee were to follow a man who represented a kingdom that would be seen to conflict with Roman power. History shows clearly how in each instance refusal of belief in the long-term value, produced a course of action that proved disastrous.

If the liturgy presents us with these texts today it is because we too have the same choice to make that Achaz and the Galileans of our Lordís time were confronted with. In small matters and at times in more serious issues, each of us is placed daily in situations that call for a choice based on faith in a higher value that entails some present difficulty or self denial. Whether we advert to the fact or not, in choosing a particular course we are often acting under the influence of an implicit faith. Each individual is so constituted that the horizon of his or her world is so structured that it opens out into eternity or hems one within the limits of time.

Faith in the living God who created us and sustains us in existence opens out into a very real world that is not subject to our bodily senses Modern physics for some years now has shown that even this material universe is in large part hidden, not subject to direct observation. Dark matter represents 22% of our universe while dark energy is 75%; all the perceptible matter in the planets and stars, vast as they are in number, constitute only 4.7% of this universe we inhabit for so short a time. No individual can possibly verify the truth of the huge quantities of information that actively enters into the present day concept of the known universe. Even on the natural plane, then, rightly to conceive of our material world we must make an act of faith in the findings of modern science.

Already in the Old Testament period God revealed to chosen persons that there is another world, invisible and unlimited by time. This world is subject to very different conditions than our familiar surroundings. God Himself is accessible and actively present to its inhabitants who are pure spirits or persons with bodies subject to the spirit and so not constrained by the laws of time and matter. Effort is required to remain sensitive to the presence of this kingdom of God that is invisibly active in our world. We must resist those activities and interests by means of which our society and its many adherents so insistently impose their short-term values on us. In our own country where secular government is now invasive, freedom of conscience is under attack. It is important to make provision for living a more interior way that remains aware of the hidden presence of the God for whom we are made. Such interior effort is a condition for preserving the values essential for a spiritual life whose goals are transcendent to the changing satisfactions of this world of time. Resisting the current impositions of a materialistic government requires persons committed to those acts of faith that Jesus and Isaiah before him had demanded of the people of their time. Only those who take to heart in faith the teaching and example of our Lord and Savior can hope to prepare for life in that Kingdom where all are one in the praises of the God who created us and who shares His life with us as we enter into communion with His beloved Son, our Redeemer, the Risen Lord Jesus.?†††

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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