HE SENT LEANNESSWritten by Clint Nobles
"They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in wilderness, and tempted God in desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul." Ps. 106:13-15
I have long enjoyed reading one hundredth and sixth chapter of book of Psalms where David chronicled Israel's past, creating, if you will, his own history book. But I failed to realize Biblical reason for keeping a record of a Nation's or an individual's past. Paul explained that "whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning." (Rom. 15:4) God wants mankind to learn from our mistakes that we may "cease to do evil; learn to do well." (Isa. 1:16,17) Here in Psalms 106 we find example after example of things we may cease from doing. One such illustration is found in our text for today. Verse 15 is a startling reminder that though we seek after something with all of our earthly heart, once given this assumed blessing by hand of God, it might be very thing that takes us from that oneness walk with one true God.
Israel had eaten manna until they were sick of it, they could not stand to gather it day after day. Even though they feasted on food of angles, their human appetite was never satisfied. They began murmuring against man of God, and against God himself saying, "Who shall give us flesh to eat? for it was well with us in Egypt." (Num. 11:18) They cried against God of Heaven, Lord of their salvation, they mocked him saying, "Why came we forth out of Egypt?" (Num. 11:20) Therefore he abhorred them and gave them that which they wanted; but fleshly satisfaction does not come without a price! They ate flesh of fowl until it came forth from their nostrils, until they could not stand site of it, but recompense was not over. They not only suffered physically, but Lord Jehovah "sent leanness into their soul." They could not be content with what Lord provided, they wanted what they had back in Egypt. In Egypt they might have been slaves. In Egypt they might have been beaten, but at least, they reasoned, they had flesh to eat and wine to drink. But here, in wilderness, what did they have? Water from rocks and bread that fell as dew from Heaven. Their continual cries came before God and he gave them desires of their heart. But you see, their heart did not desire things of God, but what they had back in land of bondage. However, though they feasted on lust of their heart, their souls languished on memories of glory days gone by.
Martin Luther Would Be ProudWritten by Gary Shirley
Not again, thought Tom Parker. Not another homily about how we should embrace life from conception to natural death. Not another reminder that God is Author of all life. Please don’t warn us again about evils of contraception and abortion. Is all this really necessary? Why does Church feel this overwhelming need to invade our private lives?
Driving home from church, Tom complained to his wife Linda, “Don’t these priests understand harsh reality of living in today’s world? They stand up there and tell us to welcome children into our lives, but they don’t have to face difficulties of raising them nor foot any of bills. Do they have a clue what college costs these days? Why is Catholic Church so out of touch with American life? When will these guys wake up to how society has changed, thanks to great social programs, progressive laws and quantum leaps in technology? Catholics don’t need to hear this stuff over and over again.”
While he drew his next breath, Linda managed to squeeze in a solicitous, “Yes, dear.” She hoped that if Tom knew someone was actually listening, he would be satisfied and let it ride. Only a moment of treasured silence occurred. A different response soon came from back seat. “So, Tom, you think Church is out of touch with times, eh? You actually believe that good Catholics don’t need to be reminded of truths of faith,” came return volley from his brother Jeff. Both Jeff and his wife Rose had been listening attentively to Tom’s spleen venting.
Jeff always loved to antagonize his older brother all through their boyhood, especially when Tom went off on one of his tirades. Visiting from Colorado, Jeff and Rose were only in town for weekend. He wanted visit to be a pleasant one but Jeff couldn’t resist chance to spar with his big brother like they used to do. Since he had been certified as an RCIA catechist in past year, Jeff had some insights into faith that he was anxious to share. Tom would be a tough sell, because Jeff knew his brother’s faith formation pretty much ended with eighth-grade CCD program. Baiting his brother, Jeff asked, “So, Tom, what’s incredulity?”
The response from Tom was more treasured silence. Carrying torch, Jeff responded, “The Catechism of Catholic Church teaches us that, ‘incredulity is neglect of revealed truth or willful refusal to assent to it.’” He added, “Incredulity is just this side of outright heresy, Tom.” Not quite making connection, Tom said, “So... I go to Mass every Sunday, but because I complain about homily I am a heretic?” “Of course not,” said Jeff, “ but think about priest’s message. He was trying to remind faithful that, agree or not, we must follow Church’s teachings. To do otherwise makes us, in effect, Protestants.”
Jeff continued, “Remember, so-called “Reformation” in fifteenth century was born of protest against Catholic Church. That mindset of protest has infected Christianity ever since. It has essentially morphed into an attitude of, ‘I’ll believe what I agree with and discard rest.’ Many Catholics accept Church teachings that they agree with, like maybe Mass, Eucharist, or certain rites and traditions. Then they secretly or even flagrantly protest against things that have not earned their agreement. Think about it, Tom. Personal agreement is now de facto standard by which we measure our faith life. Disobedience has become norm. It’s wrong and it is cause of many good Catholics going astray. ”
Seeing that he had everyone’s rapt attention, Jeff went on. “Contraception is a classic example. Millions of Catholics think they can freely engage in contraceptive practices while still living a sacramental life. They pretend that they do not know what Church teaches or act as if some unwritten latitude exists as they brazenly dissent. Believe me, brother, I’ve heard all rationalizations in my short time as a teacher - ‘Oh, I don’t agree with Vatican on that,’ or ‘What does Pope know about married life?” or ‘The Church is just trying to keep women barefoot and pregnant.’ Meanwhile these very same people line up for Holy Communion every Sunday, resolute in their sin. I sit in pew and watch in amazement. Are they Catholics going forward to receive Lord in Eucharist or are they Protestants who simply find Eucharist acceptable theology?”
“Wait a minute,” snorted Tom, “You are really hammering your fellow parishioners awful hard. Being a catechist doesn’t make you judge and jury.” Experienced with underlying meaning in Tom’s tone, Jeff responded, “Listen carefully, big brother, because I’m not hammering people but their actions. Only God holds judgment seat on each person, but we must not be afraid to judge actions and to address those actions that are sinful.” Before Tom could respond, Jeff continued, “The Catechism nails this very attitude when it states in section on mortal sin, ‘Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, voluntary character of sin.’ By pretending not to know or by obstinately refusing to find out truth, we think we are fooling God,” said Jeff. We might fool our priest, our friends and our family, but we cannot fool God. In reality we are actually deepening our state of sin. Imagine civil parallel: if I pretend to be completely ignorant of paying income tax, then do I really believe that IRS will let me slide in end? Of course not! In reality, for every year I avoid paying taxes penalties grow exponentially. Should God operate with different logic? Why do we think God went to all trouble to teach us right way through Moses, prophets and Christ himself only to assume that he’ll let us slide in end? For this to occur we would have to re-mold God so that he becomes a Being of pure mercy devoid of justice. It’s logically and theologically absurd.”