Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent
(Click here for readings)
(Click here for readings)
By BENEDICT AUGUSTINE
“Heed me, O LORD,
and listen to what my adversaries say.
Must good be repaid with evil
that they should dig a pit to take my life?
Remember that I stood before you
to speak in their behalf,
to turn away your wrath from them.”
Doing God’s work often means working against man’s works. With his ingenuity and cleverness, man works to create a world free of care, free of responsibility, free of judgment. The prophet then comes and also adds that this world is free of truth and filled withevil. People unfortunately need to hear this often, but they will never want to hear it, even once.
Jeremiah had the unenviable task of asking an unrepentant people to repent. He understood quickly that this would make him unpopular, and laments his situation on multiple occasions, but he persisted all the same. What other choice did he have? Jonah tried to avoid his calling as a prophet only to have God follow him and insist that he change his mind. To God’s credit, He never compelsa prophet to prophecy against the prophet’s will; He respects the freedom of His children.
However, in this freedom, God does take the opportunity to persuade both the prophet and the prophet’s audience to follow Him above all.Ironically, He does this by allowing the opposition to make their case. He allows them to answer the question of what would they do instead of what the prophet or the Messiah prescribe. They answer resoundingly, “Nothing! Except perhaps persecute those who suggest doing something.” They will maintain the status quo and enjoy the prestige that comes from doing such popular work.
The existence of petty people who criticize so loudly the defenseless and peaceful and hardly mention a peep against the truly evil proves that following God is certainly better than following man. Yes, prophet, or a disciple of Christ, will suffer ignominy, relentless rebuke, abandonment, along with torture and death, but at least these dangers will not corrupt his soul. A man of God might endure many hardships, but he will never feel guilty about his successfully applying his faith. Properly instructed and sincere, a person’s conscience will validate the acceptance of God’s call; otherwise, the call is not from God, but something much darker.
Nevertheless, no one should look indifferently at the demands made of a disciple. The cross never leaves, no matter what the time or place may be. Temptation and violence awaits every fervent Catholic, and it comes in different forms that afflict one’s vulnerabilities. Doubt will attack those most faithful; despair will attack those most hopeful; and hate will attack those most loving. Christ exemplified this reality; hence, he states quite bluntly to his two ambitious disciples, “You do not know what you are asking.” They would learn soon enough, particularly after witnessing the Lord’s passion.
Modern Catholics live in a skeptical, hedonistic, and appallingly indifferent age. They will face defiance in all forms for even doing making the smallest sacrifices. This is God’s way of approval. The genuinely faithful, whom Catholics should count as the greatest blessing, will praise goodness while the legion of unfaithful, whom Catholics should properly see as sick souls, will mock goodness. Some clever sophists may try to muddy the waters by calling for more nuance, less judgment, and endless dialogue, but they only hope to weaken a Catholic’s resolve. A Catholic should instead listen to God and His Churchin order to find solid footing.
As one strives to become more holy, this reality becomes much clearer. Lent provides the perfect opportunity to attain this clarity. Christ plans to drink the cup of His passion. As true friends, His disciples should not let Him drink it alone.