17 March 2019

A Meditation For the Faithful in Their Times of Temptation, Trial and Troubles

As we know, having heard and read this many times before, the saving grace and defense for the faithful is to be found in love.  For love opens the heart to the three great gifts: repentance, forgiveness, thankfulness.
Nor will love be seen coming from the hearts of those who are fallen into wickedness: they are the fruit of hate, deceit, greed, fear, pride, possession, and aggression. And they will not only forsake love by washing their hands of it, they will eventually come to condemn it, and persecute it— and thereby condemn themselves.

For the people of God love is the touchstone of faith, the way to know if what we believe is with Him, or from something else; if we are walking with Him, or with something else; if the one who speaks is speaking for Him, or for something else; if we are keeping Him in our hearts, or something else; if we love Him, or ourselves, or something else.

Love does not speak with hate or fear or derision, but with the fullness of existence which is joy and mercy.   Love is ridiculed and trampled upon by that which is in opposition to His creation.

When you are in doubt or confusion about what is true and what is false, look for the light of love. This is the hallmark of the spirit in the world.  And if it is not there, if an act is wrapped in the hardness of pride, disguised even as an elaborate ritual observance and Pharisaical pride, then you will know what it truly is. It is a sin against the spirit.

Jesse, Love Is the Refuge for the Way
If the words of others are full of anger and wrath, turning even simple differences into sources of hatred and division, then we know that they are not from the Lord, but from the divider.   We know that in these days the fallen will speak through their followers with cleverness and well crafted arguments, so as to persuade many.  They are able to imitate wisdom and sway the minds of even the otherwise faithful with clever speeches woven from passionate hatreds.

But they will not be able to counterfeit love, because it has become alien to them.  They will have none of it in their hearts, for it is a poison to the darkness and the pride which they serve, whether they realize it fully or not. 
"I urge you, brothers and sisters, to be wary of those who cause divisions and undermine the faithful, in opposition to the teaching that you have learned.  Avoid them.  For such people do not serve our Lord, but their own appetites. And by clever words and flattery they deceive the hearts of the innocent and naive."

Romans 16:17-18

"Dividers like this speak evil about things that are different, 'the other,' or which they do not understand.  Like instinctive animals, they follow wherever their passions lead them, and so they bring about their destruction.  What sorrow awaits them.  For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his own brother.  Like Balaam, they deceive other people for money.  And like Korah, they destroy themselves with their rebellious natures.

If they eat with you in your fellowship meals of the Lord’s love, they are hidden and dangerous reefs that can shipwreck you.   They are shameless shepherds who care only for themselves. They are like clouds blowing over the land but not giving any rain.  They are like wild waves of the sea, which churn up foam with their shameful deeds.  They are orphaned stars, doomed to wander forever in blackest darkness.

People like this are detractors and complainers, living only to satisfy their desires. They are loudly boastful and arrogant, bragging loudly about themselves, and flattering others to get what they want."

Jude 1:10-13,16

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another.   And, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful."

1 Colossians 3:12-15

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

Ephesians 6:12

"Those among the fortunate who are not, in the rigorous sense, damned, can understand poverty, because they are poor themselves, after a fashion; but they cannot understand destitution.   Capable of giving alms, perhaps, but incapable of stripping themselves bare, they will be moved, to the sound of beautiful music, at Jesus’s sufferings, but His Cross, the reality of His Cross, will horrify them.  They want it all out of gold, bathed in light, costly and of little weight; pleasant to see, hanging from a woman’s beautiful throat."

Léon Bloy

"Many people act as if they hated the cross which is our salvation.   With tears in my eyes I tell you now that they may be lost, for ever.  For their belly is the god that they worship.  They boast with pride about things of which they should be ashamed. They think only about the privileges and glories of this world. But we belong to heaven."

Phillipians 3:18-20

"And because of the increase in wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.  But those who stand, firmly to the end, will be saved."

Matthew 24:12

"When you pray, you come into His presence.  Now reflect on yourself, what your feelings are in coming.  They are these: you seem to say— I am in myself nothing but a sinner, a man of unclean lips and earthly heart.  I am not worthy to enter into His presence.  I am not worthy of the least of all His mercies.  I know He is All-holy, yet I come before Him; I place myself under His pure and piercing eyes, which look me through and through, and discern every trace and every motion of evil within me.  Why do I do so?

First of all, for this reason.  To whom should I go?  What can I do better?  Who is there in the whole world that can help me?  Who that will care for me, or pity me, or have any kind thought of me, if I cannot obtain it of Him?

I know He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; but I know again that He is All-merciful, and that He so sincerely desires my salvation that He has died for me.  Therefore, though I am in a great strait, I will rather fall into His hands, than into those of any creature.

This is the feeling in which we come to confess our sins, and to pray to God for pardon and grace day by day; and observe, it is the very feeling in which we must prepare to meet Him when He comes visibly.

If indeed we have habitually lived to the world, then truly it is natural we should attempt to fly from Him whom we have pierced.  Then may we well call on the mountains to fall on us, and on the hills to cover us.  But if we have lived, however imperfectly, yet habitually, in His fear, if we trust that His Spirit is in us, then we need not be ashamed before Him.

We shall then come before Him, as now we come to pray—with profound abasement, with awe, with self-renunciation, still as relying upon the Spirit which He has given us, with our faculties about us, with a collected and determined mind, and with hope."

John Henry Newman