“The same men here who pretend to be zealous against the idolatrous empire will have recourse to it against Jesus and even invoke it against his disciples. If the support of the people is needed, Caesar is their foe. If they need him to murder their enemy, Caesar is their friend. Men judge what is just according to their passions, calling good things which satisfy them and even making use of political power to appease their passions, when its real purpose is to curb them.” (Note 1)
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“Any relationship with the living God always leads to tension, conflict and failure and then to repentance and reform. From repentance and reform, starting over again, comes a rebirth to holiness and renewal. To this day all the spiritual descendants of Abraham struggle continually with their own reform and renewal.” (Note 2)
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“There is a mountain out West I like to climb whenever I visit there. As I climb I am wishing that when I get to the top I will have that small space to myself. As much as they view and the rest, it is the silence that I seek. For up there, where the wind whispers, the birds glide without care, and the earth curves away in every direction, it is in the quiet that I can hear the voice of God.
“…The first reading begins When Abram prostrated himself, God spoke to him. There is no mention of anyone with him. Abraham, an old man, lying prone, is the very picture of giving oneself to God….
“…Amid serenity, the heart and mind open easily to God; monasteries and retreats, for instance, do not have Main Street addresses. It is amid the noise of everyday life, and the influence of crowds and doubters, that it is not so easy. But the voice of God is there amid the noise just the same as amid the quiet. He calls us always, and it is upon us to listen well — mountaintop not required.” (Note 3)
I guess I could’ve titled this “Vox populi / Vox Dei”. The voice of the people / The Voice of God. That theme runs through all the readings today. Bossuet talks of the vox populi being driven by passion against Jesus. They want Jesus dead and out of they way, so they use the government against him, all the while appeasing their own masses by calling the Roman government idolators. I believe it’s called playing both sides against the middle. Unfortunately, what Bossuet speaks of the Scribes and Pharisees doing — using the government against Jesus — is so often what we ourselves do against our fellow citizens. We want them to be generous, we want them to follow our moral code, so we use the force of the government to bind them to our ways — at gunpoint. Because force is the weapon the government uses to make people submit — force and threats of incarceration. It’s a travesty against our very humanity, and it is a travesty against God. Vox Dei says, “Love your neighbor.” It’s hard to say you love your neighbor when your hiding behind unjust laws to forcefully coerce them to do what you want, or to steal — yes STEAL — your neighbor’s money under the guise of taxes to pay for the charity you feel should be supported. The problem is, you aren’t being charitable using the government force to steal and support your cause. On the contrary, you are being tyrannical and violating the very moral code you swore to uphold as a Christian – predominately to love your neighbor. You are sacrificing your Christian values in an attempt to uphold them. The bad part of this is that, as we take more and more money to fund charitable projects (which, by the by, get funded less and less because politicians siphon that money off for other crony projects) the less charitable we become as humans and as a society. People stop giving money to charities — why should they give? The government is taking the money and doing it for them. And, as they give less money, and they become less charitable, the cease to love their fellow man because the government will do it for them. And we turn into a country of selfish and uncaring curmudgeons who have lost not one our Christian charity, but our Christian faith, and have sacrificed our very freedom on the altar of government. Thus we cease listening to Vox Dei and instead focus on vox populi with our intent to help really becoming a shackle around our — and everyone else’s — ankles.
But I digress.
Vox Dei is hard to hear. I have spoken before of listening to God and how I feel called to Adoration because of it. The silence does make it easier — even easier when you’re actually in the presence of God. But when you’re home with children running around, construction next door, traffic, AC going and all the other noises of everyday life, it’s really hard to hear God’s voice. It doesn’t mean he isn’t talking you you, but it does meant discerning it is very difficult. Honestly, I haven’t found a way to truly hear God outside of silence. I know his voice is there, but I don’t know ho to pick it out in the cacophony of sounds in which it is hidden. I think I actually do hear it, on a lesser, perhaps subconscious level, speaking to me through my conscience, guiding me away from wrong actions and towards right actions. After all, our conscience is supposed to be the Holy Spirit acting within us.
In the end, Vox Dei should trump vox populi in our lives. We’ve sacrificed enough human dignity on the altar of government, paid enough blood money to cronies, let’s reclaim our charity and dignity and listen to God’s voice and do his will, instead of listening to the voice of man.
1. Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, Meditations for Lent, trans. Christopher O. Blum (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2013), 142.
2. Father Benedict J. Groeschel, CFR, “Spiritual Growth is Hard”. In Renewing Our Discipleship, Daily Reflections on the 2017 Lenten Readings for Mass, ed. Steve Mueller (St Louis, MO: All Saints Press, 2017), 37.
3. Tom Verducci, “The Voice of God”. In Magnificat April 2017, Vol 19, No. 2, ed. Rev. Peter John Cameron, O.P. (Yonkers, NY: Magnificat, Inc, 2017) 93-94.