In today’s first reading, we hear the prayer of the exiled people in Babylon. Recognizing that they are exiled from their land on account of their sin, they make public confession and penance.
I was struck by the corporate nature of this confession. Surely there were holy people amongst this group; certainly some there had sinned more grievously than others. And yet everyone stands before the Lord and acknowledges their guilt: “the nobles, kings’ sons, elders, and all the people, small and great—all who lived in Babylon by the river Sud” (Bar 1:4).
How often I am quick to point to the sins of others, to lessen my own feelings of guilt by comparing my sins to other ones I deem graver. How easy it is to call out “the culture,” or the sins of a group of people, without examining my own heart.
Yet the entire group confesses: “From the time the Lord led our ancestors out of the land of Egypt until the present day,
we have been disobedient to the Lord, our God, and only too ready to disregard his voice” (Baruch 1:19).
It can be easy to get depressed when looking at the sins of our culture or our country–even our Church. What can we do in the face of such evils?
We can repent of our own sins. We all have sinned; we have all fallen short. “Each one of us went off after the devices of his own wicked heart, served other gods, and did evil in the sight of the Lord, our God” (Baruch 1:22).
We can do penance–for ourselves and for the sins of others. That is not just something we can do–it is something we must do. And there is great power in it. Our Lady of Fatima requested, “pray much and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to hell because there is no one to make sacrifices for them.”
You can make sacrifices for them.
If we spent half the time praying that we spend watching the news, reading X or blogs about what is wrong in the world and in the Church, and worrying about it all… not only would our hearts be more at peace, we would be changing the world.
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