The words of the Prophet Jeremiah ring just as loud today as they did in the sixth century B.C: "Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, say the Lord" (Jer 23: 1). Unfortunately, although these words ring loud, they often fall on deaf ears today.
Although we as a society have taken steps to free ourselves from the bondages of totalitarian government unlike any other society in history, we have enslaved ourselves with our passions and desires.
We listen to the false prophets of commercialism, who tell us what we want to hear. We flock to stores for two-for-one sales, or five-year warranties. We seek the newspaper, the TV, the radio, and the Internet, all for the sake of "getting a good deal."
Do we flock to the churches on Sunday with the same zest, even though the deal offered by Christ's death and resurrection is perhaps the only real guarantee? Do we search the Scriptures and the writings of the saints looking for the message that will give us the best deal for all eternity?
Many of us do not. Too often we listen to the voices of false prophets who promise instant gratification and immediate pleasure. However, after a time these pleasures become not good enough. We find ourselves in a multiplication of desires that leaves us with anguish, or, dare I quote Jeremiah and say, "fill you with emptiness."
I can remember that during my childhood my mother often came into the living room and turned off our TV, telling me that the television would never give me a hug and tell me it loves me. At the time, this comment made me laugh but her simple phrase holds lots of wisdom.
How true it is. There is virtually nothing on television, radio, or the internet that is looking out for my well-being, let alone my eternal well-being.
The only place I am going to find that is in Scripture, in the Mass, and in the writings of the saints. And while the TV will never give me a hug and tells me it loves me, Jesus would do just that.
One of the definitions of religion, according to Webster's Dictionary, is "anything that elicits devotion, zeal, and dedication." Using that definition and looking back on the previous 20 years of my life, I have had many religions: sports, the mall, a yearning to be accepted by the crowd, and so forth.
Christianity was just something I did between 10 to 11 a.m. on Sunday. This seems illogical to me now, since the message contained in this one hour was the only guaranteed message from God, the Holy One who truly cares about me.
Thankfully, there is hope for us all. Those of us who need to have the radio on in the car can avoid the non-stop diatribe against morality in today's music and instead tune into Relevant Radio. Instead of watching Seinfeld re-runs over and over again (I confess, I still do this), we can watch EWTN.
Best of all, we can use the example of those around us who have listened to the Gospel where Jesus says, "Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile" (Jn 6:31). There are those who have ignored the constant worldly messages of money, sexual immorality, and independence and have devoted their lives to poverty, chastity, and obedience; some even make vows of these virtues. These are the voices, or "prophets" we should be listening to.
James Reuter is a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in history and philosophy and is a member of the UW Marching Band. He has begun the application for the Jesuits and hopes to enter the seminary in the fall of 2007.
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