Zechariah writes of a vision in which he saw a man going to measure Jerusalem, her breadth and her length. Another angel came to tell him that Jerusalem would remain unwalled because of the great number of men and cattle that would be in her. The Lord said through the angel, “I will be a wall of fire for her all round her, and I will be her glory in the midst of her.” After the announcement of this indwelling, Zechariah bids Jerusalem, “Sing, rejoice, / Daughter of Zion; / For I am coming / To dwell in the middle of you. / It is the Lord who speaks. / Many nations will join the Lord, / On that day; / They will become his people” (2:5-15).
The day of judgment becomes the day of glory when God comes near to his people to tent with them. Deus fit homo, ut homo fiat Deus. God became man so that man might become God. Mary pictures best the doctrine of theosis or divinization. As Christ clothed in blue (heaven) puts on red (earth), Mary clothed in red (human) puts on blue (divine). Like the burning bush she blazes but is not consumed. Redemption realizes the purpose of the imago Dei. God conforms us not only to his image but also to his likeness. Through imitation of Christ we join or joys to his, our sorrows to his, our work to his, our prayers to his.
St. Peter writes that God’s divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, that through glory and virtue we may be partakers of the divine nature (2nd Epistle 1:3-4). The redeemed, the elect, the Church Militant shine with the light of regeneration, and their purity testifies to the world of their baptism. Our holiness should attract others to the fold. We drink from the overflowing cup of Trinity’s love. Why would we ever stop drinking? We shall never be filled in this life or the next because of God’s infinity. Only thus do our hearts come to rest in the source of all being, through drinking from the fountain of life.
The calendar pairs the reading from Zechariah with this statement of Jesus in Luke, “The Son of Man is going to be handed over into the power of men” (9:44). The folly of God, his handing himself over to evil men, his granting them free will is the greatest source of joy for mankind. St. Bonaventure said that free will is the second most powerful thing in the universe after God himself. We have this terrible power within us, to choose heaven or hell. If all our life we have said Fiat voluntas tua, Thy will be done, when we approach judgment day, we will hear, “Enter into the joy of your Lord.” If all our lives we have prayed, “My will be done,” we will receive our heart’s desire at judgment day. “Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and the door shall be opened to you” applies not only to the saved but to the damned as well. We should be careful to cultivate our desire for heaven. God allows people to make their own hell. If the things of this world satisfy us, we can have them for all eternity, but we will experience misery. If this world leaves us longing, we shall receive a reward. He will give us the desires of our heart.
Free will gives man the power to lock himself in hell or to follow the example of Mary and to say Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum, Let it be to me according to your word. W. H. Auden writes of this terrible gift which God gave man, “He told us we were free to choose / But, children as we were, we thought— / ‘Paternal Love will only use / Force in the last resort / On those too bumptious to repent.’ / Accustomed to religious dread, / It never crossed our minds He meant / Exactly what He said” (Friday’s Child). The terror of free will lies not only in its power to rebel but in its power to submit. Whoever saves his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will save it.