05 December 2012

"And the Effeminate Will Rule over Them": First Wednesday in Advent


From The Liturgical Year,
Isaias 3: 1-11:

For behold the sovereign Lord of hosts shall take away from Jerusalem, and from Juda the valiant and the strong, the whole strength of bread, and the whole strength of water. The strong man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet and the cunning man, and the ancient. The captain over fifty, and the honourable in countenance, and the counsellor, and the architect, and the skilful in eloquent speech.  And I will give children to be their princes, and the effeminate shall rule over them.  And the people shall rush one upon another, and every man against his neighbour: the child shall make a tumult against the ancient, and the base against the honourable.  For a man shall take hold of his brother, one of the house of his father, saying: Thou hast a garment, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand.  In that day he shall answer, saying: I am no healer, and in my house there is no bread, nor clothing: make me not ruler of the people.  For Jerusalem is ruined, and Juda is fallen: because their tongue, and their devices are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his majesty.  The shew of their countenance hath answered them: and they have proclaimed abroad their sin as Sodom, and they have not hid it: woe to their souls, for evils are rendered to them.  Say to the just man that it is well, for he shall eat the fruit of his doings.  Woe to the wicked unto evil: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.

Jerusalem is tending to her destruction; therefore she is losing all power, and, with the rest, the power of understanding.  She no longer knows whither she is going, and she sees not the abyss into which she is plunging.  Such are all those men, who never give a thought to the coming of the sovereign Judge; they are men of whom Moses said in his canticle: 'They are a nation without counsel and without wisdom. O that they would be wise and would understand, and would provide for their last end!'  

The Son of God comes now in the swaddling-clothes of a weak Babe, in the humility of a servant, and, to speak with the prophets, as the dew which falls softly drop by drop; but it will not always be so.  This earth also, which now is the scene of our sins and our hardheartedness, will perish before the face of the angry Judge; and if we have made it the one object of our love, to what shall we then cling? 'A sudden death which has happened in your presence,' says St. John Chrysostom, 'or an earthquake, or the bare threat of some dire calamity, terrifies and prostrates you: what then shall it be when the whole earth shall sink beneath your feet; when you shall see all nature in disorder; when you shall hear the sound of the last trumpet; when the sovereign Master of the universe shall appear before you in the fulness of His majesty?  Perchance you have seen criminals dragged to punishment: did they not seem to die twenty times before they reached the place of execution, and before the executioner could lay his hands on them, fear had crushed out life?'  

Oh! the terror of that last day!  How is it that men can expose themselves to such misery, when, to avoid it, they have but to open their hearts to Him, who is now coming to them in gentlest love, asking them to give Him a place in their souls, and promising to shelter them from the wrath to come, if they will but receive Him!  O Jesus, who can withstand Thy anger at the last day?  Now Thou art our Brother, our Friend, a little Child who is to be born for us: we will therefore make covenant with Thee; so that, loving Thee now in Thy first coming, we may not fear Thee in the second.  When Thou comest in that second one, bid Thy angels approach us, and say to us those thrilling words: 'It is well!'

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