A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

That day

In this life on earth, there is a continuous comfort that we may scarcely (if ever) notice. It is like the gentlest yet most delightful music – so gentle and soft that we almost never consciously hear it, but we feel it: caressing our soul and sustaining our spirit.

It is the abiding presence of God, still mindful of and present to his Creation.

In this life on earth, there is also a continual discomfort that we may scarcely (if ever) notice. It is like walking on ground that looks clear and flat, but is subtly and unpredictably uneven. It causes us to tread with uncertainty and sometimes leads us to stumble or wander off course.

It is the reality of sin and its effects in this world – our own sin and the sins of others – that disrupts, distorts, and deviates.

But it will not be this way forever.

Scripture teaches us that life on earth and its mysterious confluence of comfort and discomfort will come to an end.

We hear this truth described vividly in today’s Gospel (Mt. 13:36-43) with an apocalyptic image of weeding and damnation.

As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire;
so shall it be in the end of this world.

The Son of man shall send forth his angels,
and they shall gather out of his kingdom
all things that offend,
and them which do iniquity;
And shall cast them into a furnace of fire:
there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun
in the kingdom of their Father.

Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

This is not a popular message in today’s world, for many people live in denial.

Some (young people especially) live in denial regarding their own mortality: they banish from their minds any thought of death.

Some live in denial regarding the fate of the world: they are terrified at the thought of a giant asteroid or some other “extinction event.”

Some live in denial regarding the afterlife: betting their eternity on either the obliteration of consciousness or the magical salvation of even the worst unrepentant sinner - an infinitely risky bet.

And… there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Many people rebel at the notion of divine punishment. It conflicts with the warm, fuzzy concept of God they have made for themselves.

What they fail to remember is that actions have consequences – evil actions have evil effects – and that it is only by the merciful patience of God that we are spared the full reality of the evil we do.

"Yet your people say,
'The way of the Lord is not just';
when it is their own way that is not just.
When the righteous turns from his righteousness,
and commits iniquity, he shall die for it.”

Ezek 33:17-18

As I live, saith the Lord GOD,
I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked;
but that the wicked turn from his way and live...
Ezek 33:11

God is patient. He waits for us to accept the grace he offers, for us to turn from our selfish ways and to turn fully to him. Thus he lets us struggle on in this mixed world of comfort and discomfort.

But this struggle will not continue forever. The day of the Lord will come, the world will end (our world and/or the world), and this world’s mix of comfort and discomfort will be gone.

On that day, only the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ can save us from the consequences of what we ourselves have done. This reality is expressed eloquently in the classic verses of the Dies Irae:

Quantus tremor est futurus,
quando judex est venturus,
cuncta stricte discussurus.
What dread there will be
When the judge shall come
To examine all things strictly....

Judex ergo cum sedebit,
quidquid latet apparebit,
nil inultum remanebit.

When therefore the judge will take his seat
Whatever is hidden will reveal itself --
Nothing will remain unaddressed....

Recordare Jesu pie,
quod sum causa tuae viae,
ne me perdas illa die.
Remember, O dear Jesus,
That I am the cause of Thy pilgrimage.
Do not forsake me on that day...