They captured the Ark

Friends in the Lord, in these days, our 1st reading continues to be from the Book of Samuel; today we witness a tragedy: the Israelites were under attack by their arch-enemy, the Philistines; they must fight. And so they decide that they would bring the Sacred Ark – the most sacred object of Israel – that contained the tablets of the 10 Commandments. They carried this golden ark into battle before them, knowing that then God would help them to be victorious. But shockingly, they were roundly defeated, and their enemies capture the Ark!
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In his Commentary on this passage, Bishop Knecht says that Israel thought that if they had the Ark with them, God would be sure to protect them. But how could the tablets of the Law in the Ark help them, if they no longer carried the law of God in their hearts? They should have first repented of their sins, then God would have been gracious to them.
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If we would go back and read in context, today’s story of defeat, we would see that the high priest Eli had been tolerating much wickedness; and his priest-sons were showing a lack of respect in the holy place of worship. The Lord did not bless them therefore, because they did not honor him. If we expect God to help us and bless us, our lives must be lived in faithfulness, with a real prayer life of worship, that honors the Lord.
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Even the Sacraments will not be of any help to us if we do not turn to the Lord and cast the false gods out of our life; our hearts must be Christian hearts. I was talking with the young people the other day about the sacrament of marriage, asking them questions. One was, ‘If people are in mortal sin at their wedding, do they receive the grace of the sacrament of marriage?’ The answer: no, they do not. Only if they repent of their sins and Confess will the grace of marriage revive in their souls.
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If a person receives Holy Communion with a lukewarm attitude, with no care of what he is doing, does he receive grace? no. nothing. This is why it is good to prayerfully prepare for Mass, and make a Thanksgiving after Holy Communion or after Mass. Just as that holy Ark was of no help to the Israelites against their enemies because of their empty religion, so too we will not receive God’s grace if we ourselves do not glorify Him.
Let us therefore bless the Lord in our souls, that he may bless us in our lives.

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