Yet now you have cast us off and put us in disgrace,
and you go not forth with our armies.
You have let us be driven back by our foes;
those who hated us plundered us at will.
You made us the reproach of our neighbors,
the mockery and the scorn of those around us.
You made us a byword among the nations,
a laughingstock among the peoples.
Why do you hide your face,
forgetting our woe and our oppression?
For our souls are bowed down to the dust,
our bodies are pressed to the earth. (Ps 44:10-11,14-15,24-25)
In today’s first reading from the First Book of Samuel, the Israelites were defeated by the Philistines, even though they brought the Ark of the Covenant up to the front of the battle, thinking that God would help them slay their enemies.
It did not work out that way, however. Instead of slaying their enemies, they were soundly defeated, many of them were killed, and the rest were captured. They wondered why their God had left them.
In reality, they had left their God. They had strayed from His paths but thought that they would be able to use God to their advantage.
That is so often the case in our own lives. People stray from God but think that they can use Him when they need. They treat prayers and devotions like some kind of magic spell, just as the Israelites treated the Ark of the Covenant.
I see that a lot on social media. There are many times that someone will post something and instruct people to “like and share” with others in order to have their prayers answered. As if God is online somewhere waiting for someone to “like” an article in order to aid someone. Or people will leave “Never fail novenas” in the pews of churches, instructing people to pray the novena, make nine copies of it, and place it in churches for others to pray. As if God would be forced to respond to chain letters.
God does not work that way.
God does not want artificial devotion, God wants what is truly in our hearts. God does not want a superficial relationship, He wants honesty. God does not want a part of us, He wants all of us.
FAITH ACTION: If possible, make a visit to a church today and spend some time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. No notes, no cards, no books. Just you and God.