Fr. David's Lent Reflections Day 9
Today we come to the ninth day of our Lenten journey, God bless you as you travel the path to the Cross and to our Lord’s resurrection. Our reading from scripture is Isaiah 5:8-17.
8 Woe to them that join house to house, and add field to field, that they may take away something of their neighbor's: will ye dwell alone upon the land? 9 For these things have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts: for though many houses should be built, many and fair houses shall be desolate, and there shall be no inhabitants in them. 10 For where ten yoke of oxen plough the land shall yield one jar-full, and he that sows six homers shall produce three measures.
11 Woe to them that rise up in the morning, and follow strong drink; who wait at it till the evening: for the wine shall inflame them. 12 For they drink wine with harp, and psaltery, and drums, and pipes: but they regard not the works of the Lord, and consider not the works of his hands.
13 Therefore my people have been taken captive, because they know not the Lord: and there has been a multitude of dead bodies, because of hunger and of thirst for water. 14 Therefore hell has enlarged its desire and opened its mouth without ceasing: and her glorious and great, and her rich and her pestilent men shall go down into it. 15 And the mean man shall be brought low, and the great man shall be disgraced, and the lofty eyes shall be brought low. 16 But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and the holy God shall be glorified in righteousness. 17 And they that were spoiled shall be fed as bulls, and lambs shall feed on the waste places of them that are taken away.
The prophet speaks here of the perils of abundance, which characterizes our culture as much as it did his in Jerusalem in the 8th century before Christ. People were becoming almost inconceivably rich - as Isaiah says, joining house to house and field to field.
There’s nothing wrong with abundance, but it’s as dangerous as any other addictive drug. What happens when it becomes the most important thing in a person’s life? The answer is easy - it means there is no room left for God, or even for other people. My father used to say, “it’s easy to be rich, you just have to love money.”
We live in abundance, brothers and sisters. Sometimes we don’t feel like we do, because everyone compares themselves economically to the people who are just above them. Which, again, is fine - it’s the drive upon which capitalism is built. But pause today to ask yourself - what prayers do I want to “reach the ears of the Lord of hosts”? My own selfish prayers? The desperate cries of those I have the ability to help but do not? This is the point of today’s reading: this is not what we want to reach the ears of the Lord of hosts. Rather, let Him hear us shout out our gratitude, let Him hear the thanks of the poor and dispossessed of our land when we serve them and show them compassion. It is in our power to avoid the punishment that came upon Isaiah’s people, let us commit ourselves to learning from their mistakes.