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We read in the book of the prophet Joel, that the people of Israel regarded themselves as faithful servants of the most high God, the God who rules over every nation. And yet, because of their persistent sins they had degraded themselves to the point that their neighboring pagans would ask of them, "Where is their God?" (Joel 2:17). Because of their way of life, Israel appeared to the heathen to be a people who had no God.

If we were to be honest, we would need to confess that we are in the same situation today that Israel was in centuries ago. People who profess to be Christians, but when their lives are even superficially examined they are no different than the lives of those who do not pretend to serve God. The person who does not share our faith is justified in asking, "Where is their God?"

Hearing the message of the Christian gospel and proclaiming allegiance to it has no value at all. It is necessary for us to act upon our faith and to proclaim it with deeds rather than empty words and hollow gestures. Because their faith had no substance, the original Israelites who left Egypt were condemned to die in the desert before reaching the promised land. (Heb. 3:16-17). That is why St. Paul encourages us not to fall short of our obligation as Israel did. We have heard the good news, just as they did. They heard the message, but it did them no good, because when they heard it, they did not accept it with faith. We who believe, then, do receive that rest which God promised. (Hebrews 4:2-3).

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