Summary: In an age when people refuse to recognize our neighbor and treat him/her with dignity, we need a holy intercessor to help us.
It is our misfortune, or, better, the design of Divine Providence, that we live in an age and society that does not recognize the neighbor whom we should love as we love ourselves. An inconveniently conceived child, as I was nearly seven decades ago, is not recognized as a human being, let alone as a neighbor of infinite dignity, by the terrorists at Planned Parenthood. That is, unrecognized as human until it’s time to sell the children’s organs for cash. Recently I heard a debate on the flag issue in which a participant said “there is no slavery in the U.S. today.” I suppose this fellow hasn’t kept up with the thousands of victims of human trafficking, and the businesses and cartels who make money selling and enslaving immigrants. There is widespread non-recognition of the neighbor, and of our responsibility to treat all human beings fairly, justly and charitably. In fact, the argument could be made that, at least in direction, our society is as depraved as any other in human history, and more so than many.
The Offertory verse of today’s Mass is an unusual one. We won’t hear it chanted but you can go on the Internet to hear the lovely music to these words: “Moses prayed in the sight of the Lord his God, and said. . .Moses prayed in the sight of the Lord his God, and said. . .why, Lord, does your wrath flare up against your people; quench this wrathful spirit. Remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to whom you swore to give a land flowing with milk and honey. And the Lord was placated from the wrathful intent he had voiced against His people.” The Church tells us that this man, whom Exodus calls “the meekest man on earth” and the holiest, prayed intently for those who had treated him and God, and the law of God with contempt. And the Church says it twice. Western Culture has treated holiness, God, and the law of love with disdain. What holy person will pray with us that the wrath of God not fall upon us?
Indeed, one could be forgiven for thinking that divine wrath was already at work in the West. Much of our political leadership exhibits zero moral fortitude. A growing number of those leaders seem to be engineering further moral decay–the disintegration of families, the cynical promotion of sodomy as equivalent to natural marriage, the promotion of physician murder of the elderly and disabled, the legalization of narcotic substances. We pray for deliverance, we vote for those who seem to favor justice and goodness, and nothing changes except for the worse. Is this not the wrath of God already at work in our land?
Let’s talk about God’s wrath. When I was a kid, and heard Paul in Romans write about that wrath, I imagined my Dad coming home after Mom had had a really bad day with me. I imagined him taking out the yardstick, or–worse–the belt, and laying either on my backside. It didn’t happen often–almost never, in fact–but it was terrifying to recall. The wrath of God, I thought, had to be something like that–or worse.
The trouble with these thoughts, however, is that they are not Catholic. “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” was not written by a Catholic preacher, but by the Calvinist Jonathan Edwards. God’s attitude towards human beings is that of a loving Father. God is good all the time–it’s not just a slogan for an ACTS retreat. When God revealed Himself to Moses on the mountain, He passed in front of Moses, He chanted “the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, patient and of much compassion, and true.” God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. We need to understand that the wrath of God is simply the other side of the coin of His Love. He loves us so much that He grieves when we hurt ourselves and others. And if we insist on doing things our own way, ignoring or despising His well-crafted rules for our safety, in His wrath at our sins He may withdraw His protective hand and let us suffer the consequences of our own selfishness and stupidity. He doesn’t need to smite us to teach us what is right and wrong. When we do evil, we smite ourselves.
Now, to return to the question of the day: What holy person will pray with us that the wrath of God not fall upon us? This weekend we celebrated the ascension or assumption of that holy person into heaven. Next weekend we celebrate the coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen of the Universe. Our Lady, in her role as the Immaculate Conception, is the patroness of our nation. Who is better as an advocate before the King than the Queen Mother? Whose prayers are more efficacious than the one whose prayers with the Apostles brought down the Holy Spirit on the Church at Pentecost? It was her gracious intercession that defeated the Muslim fleet at Lepanto, and saved Europe from being overrun. She taught us to recite the Rosary for peace during World War I, and to pray for the conversion of Russia even before it was overrun by the Bolsheviks. From the assaults of radical Islam or secular imperialism Our Lord will save us by Mary’s intercession. With me, please pray, “Holy Mary. . .”