Peace and Security

Editor’s Note: Reflection on the Mass readings for the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A) Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalms 80:9, 12, 13-14, 15-16, 1; Philippians 4:6-9; Matthew 21:33-43

A few years ago, I toured northern England.  There, stretching 73 miles from coast to coast, the Roman Emperor Hadrian built a massive wall.  Constructed of stone, it was built to last, since it marked the northernmost boundary of the greatest empire the world had ever known.  Soldiers from every corner of the world were garrisoned there, and excavations tell the fascinating story of their lives and deaths.

Roman civilization was nearly 1,000 years old by the time the wall was built, and it must have seemed that Rome would indeed last forever.

Soldiers manned the wall continuously for 200 years after its construction.  But the empire did not last forever.  It collapsed, and Hadrian’s wall became a quarry used by the local people scavenging for building materials.

Historians spill lots of ink debating why Roman civilization fell to roving bands of barbarians.  But when you get right down to it, the answer is in the Bible (see this Sunday’s readings–Isaiah 5:1-7 and Matthew 21:33-43).  Rome fell for the same reason that the Kingdom of Israel fell in 722BC and Judah was exiled to Bablyon in 587BC.  Divine Providence had blessed all three societies.  But he had also called them all to account, and found them wanting.  God had planted them as choice vines, but these civilizations had yielded sour grapes.  Idolatry, adultery, and social injustice were some of the fruits they produced before their collapse.  And how about the people of Jericho?  Why did their walls come tumbling down?  Could their practices of child sacrifice and ritual prostitution have had anything to do with it?

That was then.  How about now?  America was founded in large part by those seeking to make it “a city on a hill.”  Its motto was “in God we trust.”  Now judges rule that we can retain this motto without offending atheists because we really don’t mean it.  America once exported democracy.  Now it exports “Desperate Housewives” and “Jersey Shore.”  When I travel around the world and tell people that I’m from Dallas, their faces light up.  Even if they can’t speak English, they manage to smile and exclaim “J.R.!”

Many assume America will last forever.  But there were soldiers manning Hadrian’s wall for more years than the United States has existed as a nation.  We are not invulnerable, as September 11 reminded us.  If we continue to yield sour grapes, our walls too will come tumbling down.

So what are we to do?  Perhaps instead of killing the prophets, we ought to listen to them.  Maybe we can begin honoring God rather than exiling him, respecting marital fidelity rather than ridiculing it, protecting the unborn rather than protecting their “terminatators,” and caring for the poor rather than abandoning them.

And maybe we can follow the advice of St. Paul (Phil 4:6-9) and renounce the anxiety that makes us miserable and causes us to conclude that we must “take care of ourselves” rather than do things God’s way.  Perhaps if we thank God for blessings and even trials, presenting our needs to Him in faith, we’ll see a change in our mood and even a change in our world.   And maybe if we fill our minds with the splendor of truth rather than with the trash of “Desperate Housewives” we might just notice more joy and serenity in our lives.

Have you ever seen a more frantic society than ours?  We eat, drink, and breathe tension.

Yet St. Paul speaks of a “peace that passes all understanding.”  It’s a peace that does not go away even when planes strike towers and hurricanes swell rivers.  It starts in the inside but has impact on the outside.  Without it, Mother Teresa could have never lasted in the chaos of Calcutta and John Paul the Great could have never made his way through Nazi tanks and Communist oppression to occupy the chair of Peter.

This peace indeed defies comprehension.  But it’s ours for the asking.


Acknowledgement

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio writes from Texas. For his resources or info on his pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land, visit www.crossroadsinitiative.com or call 1.800.803.0118.

This article originally appeared in Our Sunday Visitor as a reflection on the Mass readings 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A). It is reproduced here by permission of the author.

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About the Author

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio writes from Texas. For his resources on parenting and family life or information on his pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land, visit www.crossroadsinitiative.com or call 1.800.803.0118.

Raised in Italian/Irish neighborhood in Providence, RI, Marcellino D’Ambrosio never thought about being anything else but Catholic. But like other Catholic teens, his faith was the last place he looked for fulfillment. Following in the footsteps of his parents, both professional performers in their single years, Marcellino set his sights on stardom, playing bass guitar in several popular rock bands by the time he was 16. At that time he encountered a group of Catholics whose Christian life was an exciting adventure, an adventure worth living for. So he laid his bass guitar aside and embarked on a road that led to a Ph.D. in historical theology from the Catholic University of America. His doctoral dissertation, written under the direction of the renowned Jesuit theologian, Avery Cardinal Dulles, focused on one of the theological lights of the Second Vatican Council, Henri Cardinal de Lubac, and his recovery of biblical interpretation of the early Church fathers.

His writing has been published in the international journal Communio, Abingdon’s Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation, the Tablet, Catholic Digest, Our Sunday Visitor, and Catholic News Service’s syndicated column "Faith Alive." His popular book, Exploring the Catholic Church and video course by the same name (known as Touching Jesus through the Church in the USA) have been used in hundreds of parishes all throughout the English speaking world. The Guide to the Passion: 100 Questions about the Passion of the Christ, of which he is co-author and co-editor, may prove to be the fastest-selling Catholic book of all time with over a million copies sold in less than three months.

Dr. D’Ambrosio, the father of five and a business owner, brings to his teaching a practical, down-to-earth perspective that makes his words easy to understand and put into practice. Audio and video recordings of his popular teaching are internationally distributed. He often appears on the international Eternal Word Television Network is regularly heard on the nationally syndicated radio show "Catholic Answers Live." Dr. D'Ambrosio has been a guest on Geraldo Rivera, At Large on FoxNews Channel, the Bill O'Reilly radio show and Radio America's news program Dateline: Washington.

In 2001 Dr. D’Ambrosio left his position at the University of Dallas to develop the work of Crossroads Productions, the apostolate of Catholic renewal and evangelization that he co-founded twenty years ago, and to more directly oversee the growth of Wellness Opportunities Group a company dedicated to helping people improve the quality of their lives physically, mentally, and financially. He, his wife Susan, and their five children, reside just outside of San Antonio, TX.

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1 Comment

  1. The world is on fire alright, on fire with the religion of secularism. The great Pope Leo XIII wrote several encyclicals in the late 1800’s about the coming insurrection against the faith, and many of the issues Pope Leo XIII wrote about have come true during the following 130 years. The world has turned away from God, instead, has turned to man for all knowledge, wisdom and understanding, pride rules the world. God has gotten in the way instead of being the way. Man cannot rightly live the way he is living if God is present, for God abhors man’s way. God gave us free will, to chose between God or Satan, and there are consequences for what choice we make. We are now living within those consequences.
    Will America survive? God only knows. Unless there is a radical shift in consciousness it looks unlikely, but one soul at a time we as individuals can make a difference. We speak and act in Truth, who is Jesus Christ, in all of our affairs. We must stand up to the evils presented to us in this world and not passively sit on the sidelines, hoping someone else will do it, or afraid that we are going to offend someone. We must be willing to die for our faith. The saints became saints, not out of some special vitures, but out of their love for Christ and the need to espouse their love for Christ no matter the outcome. The apostle’s spread The Good News throughout a world that had no idea of Christ, in hostile enviroments and were martyred as the result of it.
    The single most important place we can share and spead God’s Love is in our home, with our children. From there we can and should do what we can in our communities and parishes, taking a cue from St. Francis of Asisi, preach, but use words only when necessary.
    My friends, this is the battle, this is a war of good and evil, not against flesh and blood, but against Principles and Powers. To fight this battle we must live a sacramental life, depend solely on God and then we can move mountains.
    God Bless
    Gary

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