If you’ve been going to daily Mass or reading the readings of the day, you’ve witnessed the increasing darkness of the readings, increasing as they do every year at this time of the liturgical year. The Church reminds us of our mortality and our need to repent. Today’s reading always kind of freaks me out:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies,
know that its desolation is at hand.
Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains.
Let those within the city escape from it,
and let those in the countryside not enter the city,
for these days are the time of punishment
when all the Scriptures are fulfilled.
Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days,
for a terrible calamity will come upon the earth
and a wrathful judgment upon this people.
They will fall by the edge of the sword
and be taken as captives to all the Gentiles;
and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles
until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars,
and on earth nations will be in dismay,
perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.
People will die of fright
in anticipation of what is coming upon the world,
for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
And then they will see the Son of Man
coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
But when these signs begin to happen,
stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand.” (Lk 21:20-28)
Of course, Jesus was foretelling the destruction of the temple in AD 70, but His word is eternal, and this word still pertains to us today.
When I read this, I take a deep breath, and:
- I acknowledge my sin, the sin of our nation and of the world,
- I bow my head in sorrow, and
- I beg for mercy.
Because really…all there is… is mercy. We deserve nothing. Only love will save us.
Then I turn to the scriptures, to one of my favorite passages from Lamentations:
My child, when you come to serve the Lord,
prepare yourself for trials.
Be sincere of heart and steadfast,
and do not be impetuous in time of adversity.
Cling to him, do not leave him,
that you may prosper in your last days.
Accept whatever happens to you;
in periods of humiliation be patient.
For in fire gold is tested,
and the chosen, in the crucible of humiliation.
Trust in God, and he will help you;
make your ways straight and hope in him.
You that fear the Lord, wait for his mercy,
do not stray lest you fall.
You that fear the Lord, trust in him,
and your reward will not be lost.
You that fear the LORD, hope for good things,
for lasting joy and mercy.
Consider the generations long past and see:
has anyone trusted in the Lord and been disappointed?
Has anyone persevered in his fear and been forsaken?
has anyone called upon him and been ignored?
For the Lord is compassionate and merciful;
forgives sins and saves in time of trouble.
Woe to timid hearts and drooping hands,
to the sinner who walks a double path!
Woe to the faint of heart! For they do not trust,
and therefore have no shelter!
Woe to you that have lost hope!
what will you do at the Lord’s visitation?
Those who fear the Lord do not disobey his words;
those who love him keep his ways.
Those who fear the Lord seek to please him;
those who love him are filled with his law.
Those who fear the Lord prepare their hearts
and humble themselves before him.
Let us fall into the hands of the Lord
and not into the hands of mortals,
For equal to his majesty is the mercy
That he shows. (Lam 2:1-18)
I know my redeemer lives, and I trust in Him.
Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner! Anne