The first reading of the day comes from Haggai 1:1-8:
On the first day of the sixth month in the second year of King Darius, The word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai to the governor of Judah, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, and to the high priest Joshua, son of Jehozadak:Thus says the LORD of hosts: This people says: “The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD.” (Then this word of the LORD came through Haggai, the prophet:) Is it time for you to dwell in your own paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?Now thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways! You have sown much, but have brought in little; you have eaten, but have not been satisfied; You have drunk, but have not been exhilarated; have clothed yourselves, but not been warmed; And whoever earned wages earned them for a bag with holes in it.Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways! Go up into the hill country; bring timber, and build the house That I may take pleasure in it and receive my glory, says the LORD.
Today, my little sister said something that caught me off guard. “Most Catholics don’t go to Mass or believe the same stuff the Pope believes, right?” “Umm,well if they are Catholic, I would hope they believe in the Church teachings. What else would make them Catholic?” She went on to explain that many of her “Catholic” friends are against most of the Church teachings. This was not new information but it deeply saddens me.
Our culture strays away from believing Catholic teachings or immersing themselves in the beauty of the Catholic church. In fact, we are often discouraged. We are alienated when our beliefs go against the current and it is causing a lot of pain and stress in the lives of many.
“Consider your ways! You have sown much, but have brought in little; you have eaten, but have not been satisfied; You have drunk, but have not been exhilarated; have clothed yourselves, but not been warmed; And whoever earned wages earned them for a bag with holes in it.”
Yes, our culture is right in that we can get by and have a decent life here on Earth without Jesus. The problem is that without Him, we can sow but we will not but will not bring in much; we will still eat, but will not be filled; we will drink, but not be vitalized; have clothing but not be warm; and we can earn money but will never have long-lasting fruit come from it.
So we must consider our ways! If we do not fix our eyes on Jesus, we will never be content. We will never find fulfillment. So what do we do? We seek to fill ourselves with things that will never endure and bring us true joy.
I recently read a few alarming statistics. About 70% of all Americans are on at least one prescription drug. One in every ten Americans takes antidepressants. Among women in their 40’s and 50’s, the rate is one in four. An estimated 20 million Americans aged 12 or older used an illegal drug in the past 30 days. About 570,000 people die every year due to drug use. One in twelve adults (approximately 17.6 million people are dependent upon or suffering from alcohol abuse. Around 40% of all hospital beds in the United States are being used to treat ailments and conditions regarding unhealthy alcohol consumption.
How can we believe that our culture is thriving with statistics like this? What is causing this dependence on drugs and alcohol? A lack of Jesus in our culture. A lack of love.
“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”
The above quote is my favorite one from Mother Teresa. How true is that? We need all of our attention to be placed on God. We need more love.
The next time you are tempted to use an Earthly thing as a bandaid for having a lack of love and true fulfillment in Christ, replace that thing with a few moments of silence, or a few moments of prayer. We all medicate ourselves with something. For some it is drugs, alcohol, sexual intimacy, toxic relationships. For others it can be consumption in material items, desire to always be doing, eating too much, eating too little, or even eating too much chocolate. Whatever it may be, I pray that this serves as a reminder to eliminate the things keeping us away from being fully content and confidently resting in joy of having eternal life with our Lord, Jesus Christ. I will work on doing the same.
Let us pray for one another on this gorgeous Thursday!