Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Breaking of Dawn

This from the readings for the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday.

Lot is one of my favorite characters in the Bible because I can identify with him and because St. Peter, being inspired by the Holy Spirit, refers to him as "righteous Lot." When doubts enter the mind, causing discouragement, remembering Lot gives encouragement, hope, reminding me that all is not lost. It also increases my love of God, reinforcing the the fact God loves us so much that He is faithful to go to extremes--if we are willing--to "keeps us in the fold."

It was "as dawn was breaking" that the angels urged Lot on. There was a "dawn breaking" during the battle for Iwo Jima when Gunnery Sergeant Basilone, U.S. Marine Corps, before being killed in action, would go from foxhole to foxhole, urging Marines forward, knowing that their chances for survival and for the successful completion of the mission depended upon their moving forward, instead of hunkering down, allowing the enemy to "zero" in on them. Today is the "breaking of dawn" for us, just before our Lord, Jesus Christ, returns. The Catholic Church is urging us on everyday by means of the Mass and the seven Sacraments. It is for our safety and for the mission of the Church. We are frail, weak, making excuses, sometimes falling--by virtue of fear: fear of losing something, missing something, fear of not enduring, etc.--nevertheless, God keeps us if we seek Him, cry out to Him, by having others, the Catholic Church, "seize us by the hand, leading us to safety." However, we must not "look back," as Lot's wife did, wistfully desiring to like the world.

God did not rescue Lot and his family for Lot's sake, but for Abraham's: "When God destroyed the Cities of the Plain, He was mindful of Abraham by sending Lot away from the upheaval by which God overthrew the cities where Lot had been living." God did not redeem us for our sake, but His. "And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I will have acted well toward you for the sake of my name, and not according to your evil ways, nor according to your very great wickedness, O house of Israel, says the Lord God" (Eze 20:44). "Help us, O God, our Savior; and free us, Lord, for the glory of your name; and forgive us our sins for the sake of your name" (Ps 79:9). "I acted for the sake of my name, so that it would not be violated in the sight of the Gentiles, in the midst of whom they were, and among whom I appeared to them, so that I might lead them away from the land of Egypt. Therefore, I cast them out of the land of Egypt, and I led them away into the desert. And I gave them my precepts, and I revealed to them my judgments, which, if a man does them, he shall live by them. Moreover, I also gave to them my Sabbaths, so that these would be a sign between me and them, and so that they would know that I am the Lord, who sanctifies them" (Eze 20:9-12). Needless to say, when God works for namely His sake, it is also for our sake.

Although Lot was rescued for Abraham's sake, nevertheless he and his family had to be obedient: They could not look back. Lot's wife did, and was turned into a pillar of salt. The angels seized their hands and led them out, but they could not look back; otherwise, they would perish. Because of our propensity to sin, in our weakness we cry out to God, "Search me, O Lord, and trye me; test my soul and my heart; for Your mercy is before my eyes, and I walk in Your truth." St. Augustine has a great commentary on this psalm: "'Prove me, O Lord, and try me.' Lest, however, any of my secret sins should be hid from me, prove me, O Lord, and try me, making me known, not to Thee from whom nothing is hid, but to myself, and to men. 'Burn my reins and my heart.' Apply a remedial purgation, as it were fire, to my pleasures and thoughts. 'For Thy mercy is before mine eyes.' For, that I be not consumed by that fire, not my merits, but Thy mercy, whereby Thou hast brought me on to such a life, is before my eyes. 'And I have been pleasing in Thy truth.' And since my own falsehood hath been displeasing to me, but Thy truth pleasing, I have myself been pleasing also with it and in it." It is not by our might or intelligence that we are redeemed and endure, but the grace and mercy of God. It is in His mercy that "He seizes our hands and leads us to safety." He does this by means of the Catholic Church and the Sacraments. We walk in His truth when we do do our best to be obedient to the dogmas and doctrines of the Church--even if we do not understand them or agree with them--since they come from our Head, Jesus Christ.

God does not make the Way difficult. He knows better than us what will bring us happiness, for He created us. We must trust Him and the Church He created to guide us. He asks that we desire and work to be the image of His Son, who is the image of the Father. We "look back" when we fruitlessly attempt to change God into our images by maintaining erroneous conceptions of God and His laws.

Jesus got into a boat--the Catholic Church--and His disciples followed Him. The sea is the world, man doing what is right in his own eyes--chaos--"the cities where Lot had been living." Even when He is "sleeping," the world cannot overcome the Catholic Church, even when it "appears" the boath is being swamped by waves. Our numbers may decrease by virtue of those "Catholics in name only" breaking away; nevertheless, the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church.

Lord, in Your mercy, seize our hands and correct our wayward thoughts and ways. Dawn is breaking; and soon our Savior, our Redeemer, will be here. We just need to "watch" a little longer, taking one small step forward at a time. We are on a pilgrimage; let us not be distracted.
--Tommy Turner