A few weeks ago I put up video of the rock and mudslides at the site where the Shrine will be built at Mt. Meeker. It looked devastating, but things are not always as they look. Since men have dawdled God, Himself, has cleared away the ground – not in a paroxysm of destruction, but both as a sign and a practical beginning to what we should have done, ourselves. That is exactly what is about to happen in the world. We did not live faith, so a great deal of fetid, tangled undergrowth has snarled modern society – and God, Himself, is about to clear the ground for what is to come, to build what we should have preserved and what He intends for us. But we are the tools He will use to build with.
To put it in pop culture terms, the last year has marked the opening credits for the movie that will unfold over the next four – and that movie is not, “The Empire Strikes Back;” it is “Return of the Jedi.” Both, you will recall, had fearsome battles and trials but in the latter, as it has ever been appointed, it is the true that prevails. So do not lose your balance as you see fearsome things unfold. It is just satan screaming and fighting as he is sent back to lock-up to await the end. Do not deceive yourself that you are a fearsome warrior who must do extraordinary things. That is one of satan’s more subtle seductions. Just acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to those around you. Live the ordinary with extraordinary love and simplicity – and you will be a most useful tool in the Master’s hands.
Beware of people like me, people who claim to have visions or to be prophets. Many of satan’s minions have risen trying to draw people away from their faith to something new, something different. There is no new revelation: Christ is Lord of all and God reigns in heaven and has dominion over the earth. He is not dead, nor does He sleep. Christ did not say that the “gates of hell will not prevail over Charlie Johnston” or of any of the other purported prophets out there. He said the “gates of hell will not prevail against My Church.” So any who try to lead you away from the Church, from Christ, is a fraud doing satan’s work. Do not follow them. Follow the Church. As for me, whether you believe me or not is a matter of indifference to me. It IS very important to me that you acknowledge God, take the next right step and act as a sign of hope to those around you. In the times of Christ, the purpose of even an authentic prophet is to point you back to Christ, to clean away the disfiguring marks that people and the world have put on His image, so that you may see Him with fresh eyes and fall in love all over again. Satan’s minions are working triple shifts. Do not be deceived by them.
Do not be one of those in whom the love of Christ has grown cold with complacency. God is always fresh, startling and new. If you are a ‘social-climber’ Christian, one who prays with the Pharisee that, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men…” (Luke 18:11) you will get the same response the Pharisee did (spoiler alert – Christ was not amused). Be grateful when the Lord of Hosts knocks you on your duff, for it is for your salvation. Beware of formulaic legalism. I have had many wonderful, deeply insightful discussions with men and women of faith, both in the Catholic Church and among my Protestant brethren. But I find the deepest most fruitful conversations where I learn the most are with people who are marked with a spirit of genuine humility and service. When I encounter someone who imperiously informs me they only go by what the Church or what the Bible says, I have yet to discover one who actually knows much about what either the Church or the Bible says.
Do not treat God the Father as some sort of distant, forbidding alien. He is your Dad. He loves you, will laugh with you if you let Him, and wants you to treat Him with the intimacy of a real Father. If you are hurting, if you are mad, if you are frustrated and don’t understand, say so. He knows our strength and our frailty. I read how Samuel said, when God spoke to Him, “Here I am, Lord.” I admire it, but my response has usually been more like, “You again? Couldn’t you give me a break?” I identify with the complaining prophets, Jeremiah and Jonah. I console myself (and hope) that my griping and grumbling amuse the Almighty…that He gets a kick out of the histrionics knowing full well that I will get up and do what He says, likely grumbling most of the way. That does not need to be your style of dealing with God, but I would that the same sort of confident intimacy, expressed with the unique unrepeatability of the personality that is yours, would mark your dealings with Him. How I wish everyone would know that God is a fun and boon companion – demanding, absolutely, but what a genuine Friend He is if you just let Him!
Learn not just to have faith in God, but to trust Him as well. Some say that all you need do to be saved is confess that Jesus is Lord. Well, in his Epistle, St. James says different. He says that the demons in hell do not need to be convinced of it: they KNOW Jesus is Lord and tremble because of it. If you are merely a hearer or a speaker or a knower of the Word, it avails you nothing. You must be a doer of the Word. Once you genuinely give yourself into God’s hands, do not deceive yourself that prayer is a means to bind God to your will, persuading Him to give you wealth, power or even good health. God’s purpose is always to save you, to heal you. But the healing is always for eternity – and sometimes to save your soul, it is necessary to afflict you in this life. Those of you with children know what I mean. We are the Master’s children. So trust, when you give yourself to God, that what He allows to befall you is for the benefit of your or another’s immortal soul. Do not ask, “Why me?” when afflicted: rather ask, “What do You intend for me in this trial, Lord?” He will usually let you know, will not give you more than you can bear, and will give you strength to bear what He allows. That does not mean you should not ask for healing or help in your needs. You should. But you should also accept His answer, especially when it is not what you had wanted or hoped for.
I tell you that strife and explosions will seem to overtake the world now. As you see them, do not panic. Rather rejoice, for it is the sound of our deliverance that you hear. Gird your loins, acknowledge God, take the next right step and be a sign of hope to those around you. Then you will participate with God in our deliverance.
“The people in darkness have seen a great light…” (Isaiah 9:2)