But, you, O LORD of hosts, O just Judge,
searcher of mind and heart,
Let me witness the vengeance you take on them,
for to you I have entrusted my cause!
One of the biggest challenges of the Christian life is to keep our eyes on the big picture. We get caught up – indeed overwhelmed – by our various crises de jour be it family, financial, vocational. As important as our God-given obligations are, we are also reminded again and again and again to realize that we are only here for a moment. “In all you do, remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin.” (Sirach 7:36).
The prophet Jeremiah is referred to as “The Weeping Prophet.” He was called by God to speak to the Jews. For more than a quarter century he did that. He obeyed even though God told him that no one would listen to him. (How would you like to be a salesman for a living and KNOW that you would never make a sale!) He obeyed if though he was reviled, beaten, mistreated, and just all around humiliated.
Faithful followers of Jesus around the world are getting a taste of this growing persecution. Run afoul of the Sodomite mafia, display a small cross around an unwashed muslim crowd, serve the global Church, or refuse to participate in the intrinsically evil Obamacare and find out. (Yet the majority of those named after Christ won’t even disconnect their cable!)
Our Lord knew our sufferings for His sake before the foundations of the world. He also shares in them as in our sufferings we have a share of His. The millions who have suffered for righteousness sake bear witness to the truth of Eternal Life.
But there is a corollary that is also overlooked in modernity: Eternal Death. Hell. Sin has fallen from the English Lexicon (except, perhaps, when some democrat is referring to some republican). It is the loss of the notion of Hell – Eternal Death – that inevitably, unavoidably leads to the demise of civilization. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI noted the reality of this Eternal Death:
When one is not aware of the judgment of God, when one does not recognize the possibility of hell, of the radical and definitive failure of life, then one does not recognize the possibility and necessity for purification. Then man does not work well on behalf of the world, because in the end he loses his bearings, he no longer knows himself, not knowing God, and destroys the world. All of the great ideologies have promised: We will take things in hand, we will no longer overlook the world, we will create the new, just, correct, fraternal world. Instead, they destroyed the world. We see this with Nazism, and we also see it with communism, which promised to build the world the way it was supposed to have been, and instead destroyed the world.
Today we are used to thinking: what is sin? God is great, he understands us, so sin does not count, in the end God will be good toward all. It’s a nice hope. But there is justice, and there is real blame. Those who have destroyed man and the earth cannot sit immediately at the table of God, together with their victims.
We have the same imperative mission that Jeremiah. Urgency should grip our hearts for our friends, family, neighbors, and nation. And ourselves. We should press on to the prize of the high calling in Jesus, declaring the love of Heaven; the despair of Hell.
Like Jeremiah, to God we should entrust our cause. And celebrate both His mercy and His vengeance.