Wed, 25 November 2015
(Dn.6:12-28; Dn.3:59,68-74; Lk.21:20-28)
“Your ransom is near at hand.”
“He is a deliverer and savior, working signs and wonders in heaven and on earth.” And as “He delivered Daniel from the lions’ power,” so He shall save our souls from the destruction to come upon the face of the earth.
The king’s prayer is answered: “To Daniel he said, ‘May your God whom you serve so constantly, save you.’” And when the lions’ mouths are closed because of David’s innocence before God and men, Darius in awe of the living God writes to the nations that the kingdom of the God of Daniel “shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall be without end.” Another pagan king is brought to his knees in truth… “Praise and exalt Him above all forever”! Indeed, “let the earth bless the Lord.”
But it is deliverance which is our theme today. Daniel is delivered from certain death in the lions’ den, and our Lord speaks to us of the utter destruction of Jerusalem and the coming of the end of time – “Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” – and of our means of escape from annihilation. Yes, we must flee the devastation that is near, flee to the mountains from the midst of the city, not linger behind in the land of Sodom as the angel comes to guide us to safety. Indeed, we must lift our heads to the sky even as its powers are shaken and all comes crashing to the ground but the strength of our God. For on that Day He will be made manifest, and on that Day, if we “stand up straight,” our deliverance from sin and the powers of this world will be joyously known by our eternal souls. And we shall celebrate as did the king and Daniel upon the holy man’s removal from the lion’s den – and we shall praise the Almighty’s name with “nights and days,” with “lightnings and clouds,” with all the elements of the Lord’s universe. Alleluia!
Fear not, brothers and sisters, “in anticipation of what is coming upon the earth.” Even as you are called, so you must be – to be “clever as snakes and innocent as doves” (Mt.10:16). Follow the saints’ examples in simple obedience to the Shepherd’s voice and, harboring no ill will toward your persecutors, be prepared to lay down your life if it be in the Lord’s will, knowing full well that He will rescue you.*
* For this final thought I credit St. John Chrysostom and his wisdom, as found in this morning's Office of Readings.
O LORD, you are coming with great power and glory –
praise your holy NAME!
YHWH, we need not fear that the lion’s mouth will close upon us. Though the heavens be shaken and darkness cover the land, with your Son we may stand tall. Anticipation of His coming, joy at the salvation He brings – the eternal peace that follows in His wake – will keep us strong on the Day of judgment. From the den of the lion we shall be freed.
The end must come, we know, O LORD. All these things must pass away. May we stand in innocence before you on that day, and so live with you forever in your kingdom. In this city let us not desire to remain, but with your Son let us fly to Heaven.
O LORD, let all hearts turn to you before that great and terrible Day; let even the kings of this world recognize you as the one true God. Send your angels throughout the earth to work your wonders and save all holy souls from destruction.
Wed, 4 November 2015
(Rm.14:7-12; Ps.27:1,4,13-14; Lk.15:1-10)
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Since “every one of us will have to give an account of himself before God,” who are we to “sit in judgment” or “look down on” a brother? Why are our eyes set upon others’ sins instead of the Lord’s glory? Why do we fall into this pit of condemnation?
Yes, Jesus welcomes sinners. For this has He come. How blessed are we that He makes such “a diligent search” to retrieve our souls from the grave of sin; how blessed are we when He finds us and puts us “on His shoulders in jubilation.” In this forgiveness should we glory. In this grace we should praise the Lord, and seek to help others come to such blessing. But do we blind ourselves to the grace at work in our souls by setting our sights on the sins of others rather than the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ? Are we as judgmental as the Pharisees and as those Paul warns today against condemnation of others?
Brothers and sisters, we should rather be with David in his psalm and seek “to dwell in the house of the Lord” forever, and set our “gaze on the loveliness of the Lord and contemplate His temple”; we must not let our sights fall from heaven to earth and so lose ourselves in the judgment of others’ sin. This is the great danger. This is the devil’s temptation: “Look at him,” he says, “see how evil he is.” If he cannot get us to believe it about ourselves and so lose hope of redemption for our souls, he attempts to distract us with the sins of others, and so achieve the same ends. We must realize that “both in life and death we are the Lord’s,” that He loves us and desires our salvation, and that He loves and desires the salvation of all our neighbors. And so we must come to Him, take refuge in Him and in His love and forgiveness, and then we will “see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living” and not die a miserable death.
Brothers and sisters, let each of us be that “repentant sinner” over whom the angels of God rejoice. The Lord welcomes us though we are sinners. Let us not forget His grace. And let us welcome others.
O LORD, let me be that one repentant sinner
you find and place upon your shoulders –
come to me even this day.
YHWH, it is your great joy to see the repentance of the sinner, and so your Son has come among us to invite us to such grace. And if we are your friends, will we not rejoice with you? If all of Heaven rejoices at the conversion of the poor lost sinner, we show ourselves not to be of you, not to be of Heaven, if instead we look down upon our brother. O save us from such a miserable fate!
We all must bend the knee before your Son; we all shall have to appear before your judgment seat and give an account of our lives. And is any of us without sin, except your Son’s dear Mother? Then we must know that to dwell in your House, to contemplate your face, we all require your blessed forgiveness, LORD, that without it we will be left standing outside your gates. And so, let us praise you for your goodness to us, and to others. Let all souls be found rejoicing in your kingdom.