This morning as I was reading the first reading from Jeremiah 7, I was thinking that it sounded pretty familiar. It reminds of the sort of thing that people post on Facebook.
But they obeyed not, nor did they pay heed.
They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts
and turned their backs, not their faces, to me.
From the day that your fathers left the land of Egypt even to this day,
I have sent you untiringly all my servants the prophets.
Yet they have not obeyed me nor paid heed;
they have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers.
When you speak all these words to them,
they will not listen to you either;
when you call to them, they will not answer you.
Say to them:
This is the nation that does not listen
to the voice of the LORD, its God,
or take correction.
Faithfulness has disappeared;
the word itself is banished from their speech.
It could be a bit depressing, but then we moved on to Psalm 95.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
And this, of course, is what we are called to do every day. Every day we see that evil threatens to overcome us, and there's very little chance that many will listen to the Gospel. But that's not our worry. Our job is turn our faces to Him and joyfully sing His praise. It reminds me of Mary's words to Alfred in Chesterton's Ballad of the White Horse.
“The men of the East may spell the stars,
And times and triumphs mark,
But the men signed of the cross of Christ
Go gaily in the dark.
“The men of the East may search the scrolls
For sure fates and fame,
But the men that drink the blood of God
Go singing to their shame.
“The wise men know what wicked things
Are written on the sky,
They trim sad lamps,
they touch sad strings,
Hearing the heavy purple wings,
Where the forgotten seraph kings
Still plot how God shall die.
“The wise men know all evil things
Under the twisted trees,
Where the perverse in pleasure pine
And men are weary of green wine
And sick of crimson seas.
“But you and all the kind of Christ
Are ignorant and brave,
And you have wars you hardly win
And souls you hardly save.
“I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.
“Night shall be thrice night over you,
And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause,
Yea, faith without a hope?”
Of course, we know Alfred won, and it looks as though it may be a long time before we have any victory over the ills that presently beset us. Still, any worldly victory is only a reprieve, and any seeming defeat can be redeemed. In fact, any defeat in the cause of Christ will be redeemed, which, I suppose, is what keeps us singing.