In the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians, he reminds them, “by grace you have been saved.” This is a good reminder for all of us. We take God’s grace for granted and we take our faith for granted.
In the first reading, from the book of Chronicles, we hear that Israel loses its land, and even more devastating, it loses its temple because of its sins and its transgressions— it has lost the faith. It says that Israel was reminded “early and often” of their infidelities, their abominations, and their polluting of the temple, but they did not change.
We may look at our own lives and see how we have become lukewarm, or worse yet, indifferent to parts of our faith. Standing at the back of church, when I am not the celebrant, breaks my heart. Just last weekend at the 11 o’clock Mass there were three “waves” of people who left before Mass was finished: The crowd walking out with Jesus in their mouths, the crowd ducking out after collecting their belongings in the chair after communion, and the crowd that left before the final blessing because they had to beat everyone out of church. Fully 1/3 of the church was gone before the final blessing! This is so heartbreaking because it means that our faith is certainly not on fire for the Lord. Obviously, some people have exceptions where they have to leave quickly because of work or because of an ill person at home, but most have just gotten into a bad habit. It seems that five more minutes in church will kill them.
The Jewish people lost their land for 70 years and their temple for an even longer period because they grew lax in faith. I pray that we will not suffer in the same way because we have become passé about our beliefs and practice.
Come early to pray, and stay to the end to receive the final blessing! Nothing is more important.