Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

(II Kings 19:9b-11.14-21.31-35a.36; Matthew 7:6.12-14)

Presidents of the United States these days like to mention God, but they don’t dwell at length about Him. They find it politically expedient to say something like, “God bless America,” but they are not likely to express anything near Abraham Lincoln’s sense of God’s involvement in national affairs. The sixteenth president said in his second inaugural address, “If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him?” We might, however, find a Lincolnesque quality to Hezekiah’s dire prayer in the first reading today.

Judah is being besieged by the mighty army of Sennacherib of Assyria. Its cause seems hopeless, but somehow the king realizes that Israel’s only real hope has always been God. So he prays, “Therefore, O Lord our God, save us from the power of this man…” Quite astonishingly Judah is spared being overrun. Assyria’s forces are stricken by disease and withdraw.

Like Lincoln we are wise to remember that God does punish offenses. But it is even more urgent that we remember God’s care for His people like Hezekiah. We should pray regularly that we may be spared the severest consequences of our sins and that we may become more loving like God.