When the angel came to Zechariah, the future father of John the Baptist, to tell him of Elizabeth’s surprising motherhood and the remarkable vocation of his coming son, the angel said this:
Lk 1:16 “And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God,
Lk 1:17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
The phrase “to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children” echoed in my ears as I pondered the truly massive U.S. debt that is the inheritance of our children and grandchildren for generations. And the debt continues to increase, and the interest on the debt continues to increase, and the increasing burden continues to be loaded on their backs. Meanwhile we – their “fathers” – seek to protect and expand our entitlements, prop up our inflated home values, bail out our corrupt investors and investment managers, and expand our over-paid and over-benefited army of bureaucrats.
The phrase “to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children” haunts me. Abortion funding increases, child pornography increases, child abuse continues. Our children are abused not only individually, sexually, by predators of every stripe and origin. Our children are abused corporately, institutionally, in schools that warp their minds to the progressive agenda, in movies and music and television that deaden their souls with immorality and atheism.
But can the children not find solace, protection and righteous direction in their homes, and from their mothers and fathers? Our families have been so fractured by divorces and remarriages, so preoccupied with material and temporal concerns, so distracted by perceived economic “needs,” so poorly formed themselves in the saving Faith of the Church – so persistently busy! – that the children in many cases are left to raise themselves in front of a television, or later with their friends.
When will they come – those in the spirit and power of John – to turn the hearts of fathers to their obligations before God?
May the Lord keep us, His Church, from the unbelief of Zechariah when he heard this from the angel. The passage continues:
Lk 1:18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”
The Church has become “old and advanced in years” in many respects, in our time. What are the concerns of the typical parish in the U.S.? What are our parishes and parishioners working toward? Is it evangelization, with the zeal and vigor of young adulthood? Is it faith formation for adults and parents, with the humble hunger of young believers to grow in the Truth? Or rather are they the preoccupations of the “old and advanced in years”: maintenance, preserving the status quo, keeping the grounds pretty and our reputation in the “community” intact? Have we not lost our first love? Where is the passion; where is the life?
Zechariah was unable to speak, because of his unbelief, until the birth and naming of John. Is our prophetic silence the same judgment? Will the Church not awaken until the very end? Let us please pray. We need supernatural intervention; too many of our leaders are dozing, content with their managing and their buildings and their budgets. We have become “evangelized” by the world, secularized and socialized, hardly able even to see that there is a problem!
Meanwhile, the symptoms increase and the darkness advances. Pray, brothers and sisters. Pray! Daybreak is coming!