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 "At His Feet: Devoted Love"

 

"No Compromise Under Darkened Skies"

 

          As Jesus hung on the cross on Calvary, we are told, "From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon" (Mt. 27:45). Together, Sts. Matthew, Mark and Luke all report this (Mk. 15:33; Luke 23:44). St. Luke adds, "because of an eclipse of the sun" (Luke 23:45). In the Prophet Amos we read, " On that day, says the Lord GOD, I will make the sun set at midday, and cover the earth with darkness in broad daylight" (Amos 8:9). This passage describes the "Day of the Lord", a day of God's judgment. On Calvary, God's judgment against evil occurred in Jesus' death. From a biblical perspective, history is seen as "a conflict with light and darkness confronting one another, a confrontation identical with that between life and death" ( The Dictionary of Biblical Theology, p. 316). In John's Gospel, we are told that as Judas left the upper room as the betrayer of Jesus, "It was night" (John 13:30). As Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, he said "This is your hour, the time for the power of darkness" (Luke 22:53).

 

          At the beginning of the creation account found in the first chapter of The Book of Genesis, we are told that "the earth was a formless wasteland", and darkness covered the abyss" (Gen. 1:2) until God spoke the first word of creation, "Let there be light" (Gen. 1:3). On Calvary, darkness covered the whole land when Jesus spoke the first word of the new creation, "It is finished" (John 19:30). In The Book of Exodus, the Passover ritual which God spoke forth to Moses was to include each family procuring a lamb: "It shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight" (Ex. 12:6B); some of its blood was to be used to mark the two doorposts of each house; and the lamb's roasted flesh was to be eaten that same night, as the Lord slew the first born of Egypt at midnight (Ex. 12:, 23, 29). Further, the Red Sea was parted at night as God's people passed through it as on dry land (see Ex. 14:21,22). 

 

          On Good Friday, as the powerful first reading from Is. 52:13-53:12, is proclaimed at the service of "The Passion of the Lord", the first two lines state boldly the outcome of the Suffering Servant's voluntary offering:

 

"See, my servant shall prosper,

He shall be raised high and greatly exalted"

(Is. 52:13)

 

St. John reminds us in John 1:5, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." This Servant of the Lord is one who has been called, chosen, grasped, set as a light and covenant of the people, formed, well-trained with inner strength as the fruit of a rich, hidden life of prayer with the Lord…"To bring out prisoners from confinement and from the dungeon those who live in darkness" (Is. 42:7). The Catholic Church sees the life and ministry of this Servant as being fulfilled in Jesus. On Calvary, Jesus took upon himself the darkened oppression of the "dungeon" of all evil so that humanity could live in the light of day.

 

          There certainly is some mystery to the words that St. Paul speaks of Jesus in 2 Co. 5:21: "For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin"; the words of St. Peter: "He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross" (1 Pet. 2:24); and the words of God through the Prophet Isaiah: " Yet it was our infirmities that he boreupon him was the chastisement that makes us whole…the Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all" (Is. 53:4,5,6). On Calvary Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, took upon himself the darkened powers and effects of sin, Satan and death. For three hours, "darkness came over the whole land".

 

          Currently, both in our nation and in our world, a moral and  spiritual eclipse seems to  have come "over the whole land". Unfortunately, many people today are choosing to live in a "nocturnal deceit" of moral error. It appears as if many have willfully and intentionally "yanked the needle off of the moral compass": "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness into light, and light into darkness" (Is. 5:20). The opening prayer (collect) for the 13th Sunday of Ordinary time, found in the Roman Missal, states:

 

"Grant, we pray, that we may not be wrapped in the darkness of error buy always be seen to stand in the bright light of truth".

 

Throughout his earthly life and certainly during his public ministry Jesus took a stand for the cause of the Father. This stand--  "Father, Your will be done"--will always bring us in conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil, and will bring us to the cross where, united with the one-time offering of Jesus, "we will stand in the breach" as intercessors.

 

          Living as we do in a time of a growing, militant atheism, a relativistic notion of truth, "the dictatorship of individualism", and the "tsunami of secularism", we are in an "age of eclipsed conscience": "Ignorance of the fact that man has a wounded nature inclined to evil gives rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action, and morals" (CCC 407).

 

          Intercessors are exhorted strongly to remain devoted, dedicated and determined in the midst of this morally depraved "landscape". On Calvary, there was no compromise under darkened skies. Rather, Jesus persevered to the end in his "Love Offering" to the Father for the sake of the sin of the world. There is a great need today for empowered, communal intercession in our "nocturnal age". Intercession--united with the once-for-all offering of Jesus on the cross--is a "sword of light" (Is.49:2; Eph. 6:17B) that can pierce spiritual and moral darkness in any age, and open hearts to a desire for conversion. On Calvary Jesus has gained for us the grace to persevere in committed, sustained intercession under "darkened skies"!  

 

Questions:

1) What personal choices am I making to avoid the moral eclipse of our times?

Scriptures:

Any scripture from the text; John 3:19-21; Eph. 5:8-11; Phil. 2:15-16; 1Pet. 2:9

 

"TWO-ZERO-ONE-SEVEN, TIME TO STORM HEAVEN"

 

 

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