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...

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Return of the City

Today, as many thousands of evacuees stream back into the cities they fled before Hurricane Rita (and many thousands still wait), the first reading (Zec. 8:1-8) speaks of the return of the people to another devastated city: the city of Jerusalem.

Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Old men and old women,
each with staff in hand because of old age,
shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem.

The city shall be filled with boys and girls
playing in its streets.

The rest of the passage may be a special prophecy of hope for those who despair of being able to rebuild their lives in the wake of such devastation.

Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Even if this should seem impossible
in the eyes of the remnant of this people,
shall it in those days be impossible in my eyes also,
says the LORD of hosts?

Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Lo, I will rescue my people
from the land of the rising sun,
and from the land of the setting sun.

I will bring them back to dwell within Jerusalem.

Of course, this prophecy is about much more than just the repopulating of a city: it is about reestablishing an intimate and fully integrated relationship between God and his people.

Thus says the LORD:
I will return to Zion,
and I will dwell within Jerusalem;
Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city,
and the mountain of the LORD of hosts,
the holy mountain....

They shall be my people,

and I will be their God,
with faithfulness and justice.

This prophecy will be most perfectly realized at the end of time, in the heavenly Jerusalem, but it also can be very relevant for our own spiritual lives today.

In one sense, the city of Jerusalem can be seen as a metaphor for our life of prayer.

Like the ancients, we may have let our internal city fall into decay. The internal city of our prayer life may have grown so weak that it is easily overwhelmed by outside forces that capture our attention and carry our thoughts far away from God.

Indeed, just as in the time of the Babylonian exile, it may have been years since we really, really prayed – with faithfulness and justice – as we were meant to.

Then, when we return to that inner sanctum of prayer, we find little but dust and the shards of past glory.

If we find ourselves in such deserted, devastated place in our life of prayer, we must not despair.

It may seem impossible for us to get back on track, but it is not impossible for God.

If, like the exiles of old, we remain faithful and patient, in his own time the Lord will bring us back, bestowing on us the riches of his grace that will restore our internal cities of prayer to wonderful life.

The old prayers will live again in the streets of our heart and new inspirations will frolic in the boulevards of our spirit.

We will be there with the Lord and he will be there with us.

No matter how destitute our spiritual lives may sometimes feel, if we remain faithful, the abundant graces of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will return abundant, joyful life to our internal city of prayer.

And there he shall appear in all his glory.