In the Book of Judges, not the Supreme Court kind, we read that when the people of Israel were unfaithful to the Covenant God allowed their enemies, the Philistines, to prevail over them. After being oppressed for a time, the people would turn back to God and God would hear their prayer and raise up a Judge to deliver them.
What followed is a pattern of behavior where the people were faithful during the life of the Judge but eventually would become unfaithful again. God allowed them to experience the oppression of the Philistines until they called out for help.
The first lesson is that God will use the oppression of our enemies to get our attention and turn us back to the Covenant. The consequences of sin is oppression and imprisonment of the soul. Sin is addictive and causes us harm. Until we “hit bottom” or learn to recognize what is happening we will live in bondage to the sin.
The second lesson is that we have plenty of enemies, some within, that seek to oppress us and control our lives. We learn from the serpent in the garden that evil is clever and disguises itself as being something good.
Part of what we see with what is happening today is a redefining of what is good. Whoever defines the terms controls the influence it has on society. A cartoon character from the ’60s, Pogo, said, “We have met the enemy and they is us.”
The third lesson is to correctly discern the signs of the times. Among the “Gifts of the Holy Spirit” are wisdom and understanding. Through Wisdom we come to value those truths of God’s plan for our happiness. Wisdom allows us to see beyond our selfish needs to recognize the big picture. This was the message of the Prophets that we know God’s plan and live in harmony with his Covenant.
Understanding allows us to see the consequences of being faithful or unfaithful. This is why the prophets had such great insight into how things might turn out.
The final lesson, for all ages, is that we need to turn back to God and ask for his help to cast out the present day Philistines that oppress our society. We start by a personal renewal of our commitment to God’s plan.
We must pray daily for our country and our leaders that they be men and women of wisdom and understanding.
Father Patrick Toner is pastor at Saint Joseph Catholic Church, 140 West Ave., Plain City. He can be reached at email@example.com or 614-873-8850.