Tag Archives: prophets

Profound Pity

Jeremiah 3:14-17, Jeremiah 13:10-13, Matthew 13:18-23

But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirty-fold. (Mt 13:23)

When the apostle Thomas said, “Unless I see the print of the nails and put my finger where his nails were…” (Jn 20:24) we see how stubborn he was in his doubt. It would have been justifiable if he had not immediately believed, for we read, “One who trusts others too quickly is light‑minded” (Sir 19:4).

But to overdo one’s search, especially about the secrets of God, shows a coarseness of mind: “As it is not good to eat much honey, so one who searches into the majesty [of God] is overwhelmed by its glory” [Prov 25:27]; “Seek not what is too difficult for you, nor investigate what is beyond your power. Reflect upon what has been assigned to you, for you do not need what is hidden” (Sir 3:22).

Throughout the Gospels, we see the strongest signs of God’s profound pity. First, in this: that He loves the human race so much that He sometimes allows tribulations to afflict his elect; seeds to fall on thorns and stones; doubting Thomas, Peter’s Denial, etc. God permits this so that from these, some good can accrue to the human race.

God allowed the apostles, the prophets and the holy martyrs to be afflicted: “Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of my mouth” (Hos 6:5); “If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted it is for your comfort which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer” (2 Cor 1:6).

This is both remarkable and puzzling. Through profound pity, God allowed some Saints to fall into sin (as David did by adultery and murder) in order to teach us humility through refinement in the furnace.

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Originally posted on Instagram.
Image: The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, Caravaggio (c. 1601–1602) / PD-US

The Jonah Experience: Prophets of Life

ZechBenJehoWhat would it be like for God to send a prophet among us? How would we of today’s society respond? Would it be like in the days of the prophet Zechariah, who pointed out the people’s unfaithfulness, and was stoned in the porch of the Temple (2 Chron 24:20-22)? Or would it be like in the times of Jonah, reluctant as he was to speak to the Ninevites, was able to change the hearts of the people, from the least to the greatest (Jonah 3)?

The Sacred Scriptures teach us, the Lord does send His prophets:

The Lord said to me, ‘…I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him. Whoever will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it…’ (Deuteronomy 18:18)

I hope, that when God does send His prophet, it will be another Jonah experience.

After much reluctance – and running away from his call – Jonah went to Nineveh, and for three days walked through the city proclaiming to the people that God will destroy them because they have not been obedient to God and his ways: “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed!”

Happily for the people of Nineveh, the king heard the warning and headed it, and instructed all the people to do the same by proclaiming a fast, “from the least to the greatest”. The city of Nineveh listened to the words of the Prophet, changed their lives, and God did not carry out their destruction, for “God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way”.

40daysforlifehands_001In the current 40 Days for Life campaign, there is the telling of story after story how God is changing hearts because of those who are willing to silently pray for women going into abortion clinics, for the people working inside, and for mercy. In a way, they are preaching by their actions the prophetic message of God’s love. These silent prayer warriors are proclaiming a prophetic message by standing up for what they believe in. It reminds me of the Prophet Ezekiel who was told to dig a hole in the wall and go through it as though he were going into exile. After the fact the Lord instructed him, “did they not ask you what you are doing? Tell them…” (Ezekiel 12:9-10).

Our prayer warriors standing for life in front of abortion clinics across the nation are being that very prophetic witness. And many hearts are being opened to the truth through their silent presence. To date in this 40 Days campaign, 289 babies have been saved from death. And, it isn’t only saving little babies; it is helping mothers who have done the unthinkable, offering loving counsel and forgiveness.

Let us pray with the participants of the 40 Days for life campaign, asking our friends and families to do the same. And, if you can, volunteer as a prayer warrior on the sidewalks of the abortion clinic near you. You never know how God is going to use you to save a life.

Are We a New Nineveh?

In January 2012, on the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo spoke to many young people gathered National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for Mass. In his Homily he implied, we too are walking through Nineveh:

“Jonah had at first run from his call and his mission and is not bubbling with joy when it meets success as the Lord’s ways are sometimes, maybe many times, not his and not ours. Perhaps that is why we are more like Jonah than we would care to admit, especially to those hostile to us. If we are to be critical of Jonah, we must see him as our mirror. (By the way, I wonder how many days it would take to go through Washington, D.C.?)…”

May the Lord of Life hear our prayers and come to the aide of the unborn who are in danger of having their lives ended. And may He continue to change hearts and reclaiming a culture of life.

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, Patron of the Unborn, Pray for us.

Blessed Margaret of Castello, Patron of the Unwanted, Pray for us.

Hope

Presumably we all know the basic definition: “Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.”

More surprising is the paragraph that follows that one in the catechism: “The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men’s activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; […] it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity.”

So Christian hope is tied up with our desire for happiness and the earthly hopes that motivate our daily actions … and it preserves us from selfishness? Sounds odd, but the point may be this: when you have no eternal goal and heed no high calling, you serve only yourself. Without hope, you become selfish and self-centered. The people and things around you are no comfort; what joy is there in them if all will decay and die? Yet selfishness is unsatisfying; self-centeredness quickly becomes self-loathing. Then total despair. Or in Dorothy Sayers’ more eloquent phrasing:

In the world it is called Tolerance, but in hell it is called Despair, the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.

Haunting, isn’t it? Sayers, Flannery O’Connor, and Walker Percy (among others) considered despair the defining sin of the modern age. Especially given today’s economic, political, cultural, and international problems, despair is a real danger, even for committed Christians. Will we have jobs? Can we provide for our families? Will we be able to practice our faith freely? Will there ever be peace in the Middle East, freedom in China, or prosperity in Africa? Is Europe headed for collapse? Will there ever be an end to abortion? Even within the Church — Are there enough priests for future generations to receive the sacraments? Why do so many Catholics still drift away? When will the sexual abuse crisis stop?

I have no answers. But without grounding ourselves in hope, we will neither attain Heaven nor accomplish much on earth. Too much trust in our efforts will mean another dystopian disaster; too little trust, continuing decay. Even if we know in advance that some effort will fail, we are bound to try anyway. These words are cold consolation for me. But once, after praying over all of this, I opened my Magnificat to the day’s Mass readings, and came across something stronger:

In the second year of King Darius, on the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: Tell this to the governor of Judah, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, and to the high priest Joshua, son of Jehozadak, and to the remnant of the people:

Who is left among you / that saw this house in its former glory? / And how do you see it now? / Does it not seem like nothing in your eyes? / But now take courage, Zerubbabel, says the LORD, / and take courage, Joshua, high priest, son of Jehozadak, / And take courage, all you people of the land, / says the LORD, and work! / For I am with you, says the LORD of hosts. / This is the pact that I made with you / when you came out of Egypt, / And my spirit continues in your midst; / do not fear! / For thus says the LORD of hosts: / One moment yet, a little while, and I will shake the heavens and the earth, / the sea and the dry land. / I will shake all the nations, and the treasures of all the nations will come in, / And I will fill this house with glory, / says the LORD of hosts. / Mine is the silver and mine the gold, / says the LORD of hosts. / Greater will be the future glory of this house / than the former, says the LORD of hosts; / And in this place I will give you peace, / says the LORD of hosts.