19TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTCOST (28th S. in Ord. Time)
Traditionally this Sunday focuses on the necessity of charity (caritas) for the eternal wedding feast.
Psalm 119, Verse 120
My flesh shudders with dread of you; I fear your judgments.
The justice of God is a tremendously awful subject of contemplation, even to those who are safely shielded from its terrors. The believer, in the act of witnessing its righteous stroke upon the wicked of the earth, cannot forbear to cry out—My flesh trembleth for fear of thee. David trembled at the stroke of Uzzah, as if it came very near to himself. "Destruction from God" saith holy Job —"was a terror to me: and by reason of his highness I could not endure." Such also was the Prophet's strong sensation—"When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at thy voice: rottenness entered into my bones." And thus, when God comes to tread down and put away his enemies for the display of the holiness of his character, and to excite the love of his people—those that stand by, secure under the secret of their hiding place—cannot but "take up their parable and say —Alas! Who shall live, when God doeth this!" The children of God reverence their Father's anger. They cannot see it without an awful fear; and this trembling at his judgments upon the ungodly covers them from the heavy stroke. Those that refuseto tremble shall be made to feel, while those that are afraid of his judgments shall be secure. "Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold, and see the reward of the wicked." "I trembled in myself," said the prophet, "that I might rest in the day of trouble." Even the manifestations of his coming "for the salvation of his people" are attended with all the marks of the most fearful terror— as if his voice would shake the earth to its very foundation—"Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven—the earth feared and was still: when God arose to judgment, to save all the meek, of the earth." To mark this trembling as the character of the child of God, we need only contrast itwith the ungodly scoffing, "Where is the God of judgment? Where is the promise of his coming? The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil." Thus do men dare to "run upon the thick bosses of his bucklers" instead of trembling for fear of him! This "stoutness against the Lord" excites the astonishment of the hosts of heaven; so discordant is it to their notes of humble praise—"Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name; for thy judgmentsare made manifest!" Such is the special acceptance of this trembling spirit, that some shadow of it obtained a respite even for wicked Ahab and a pardon for the penitent Ninevites while its genuine "tenderness of heart" screened Josiah from the doom of his people and will ever be regarded with the tokens of the favor of this terrible God. "To this man," saith he, "will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my word." Believers in Christ! Rejoice in your deliverance from that "fear which hath torment." Yet cherish that holy reverential fear of the character and judgments of God, which will form your most effectual safeguard "from presumptuous sins." The very supposition, that, if God had not engaged himself to you by an unchangeable covenant, his fearful judgmentsWould have been your eternal portion, is of itself sufficient to mingle the wholesome ingredient of fear with the most established assurance. What! Can you look down into the burning bottomless gulf beneath your feet, without the recollection—If I were not immoveably fastened to the "Rock of Ages" by the strong chain of everlasting love, this must have been my abodethrough the countless ages of eternity. If I had not been thus upheld by the grace, as well as by the providence, of God, I might have dropped out of his hand, as one and another not more rebellious than I have fallen, into this intolerable perdition! O God! My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments. Thus the dread of the judgments of God is not necessarily of a slavish and tormenting character. "His saints" are called to "fear him"and their fear, so far from "gendering unto bondage," is consistent with the strongest assurance nay, even is its fruit and effect. It is at once the principle of present obedience and of final perseverance. It is the confession of weakness, unworthiness, and sinfulness, laying us low before our God. It is our most valuable discipline. It is the "bit and bridle" that curbs the frowardness of the flesh, and enables us to "serve God acceptably," in the remembrance, that, though in love he is a reconciled Father, yet in holiness he is "a consuming fire." Now, if we are under the influence of this reverential awe and seriousness of spirit, we shall learn to attach a supreme authority and consideration to the least of his commands. We shall dread the thought of wilfully offending him. The fear of grieving him will be far more operative now, than was the fear of hell in our unconverted state. Those who presume upon their gospel liberty, will not, probably, understand this language. But the humble believer well knows how intimately "the fear of the Lord" is connected with "the comfort of the Holy Ghost" and with his own steady progress in holiness, and preparation for heaven.
1040 The Last Judgment will come when Christ returns in glory. Only the Father knows the day and the hour; only he determines the moment of its coming. Then through his Son Jesus Christ he will pronounce the final word on all history. We shall know the ultimate meaning of the whole work of creation and of the entire economy of salvation and understand the marvelous ways by which his Providence led everything towards its final end. The Last Judgment will reveal that God's justice triumphs over all the injustices committed by his creatures and that God's love is stronger than death.
I fear no evil; for you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage.
19th Sunday after Pentecost
The king said to him, "My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?" But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, "Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth." Many are invited, but few are chosen (Mt 22:12-14).
Lessons of Consolation from the Joys of Heaven
In what these joys consist, St. Paul himself, though more than once caught up to heaven and allowed to see and taste them, could not describe. He only says that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him. In heaven all beauties, all delights, all joys, are found in the highest and most perfect degree free from all evil, free from all anxiety and disgust, and free from all fear of ever losing them. In a word, in heaven man shall possess God Himself, the source of all joy and happiness, and shall, with Him, enjoy God s own happiness for all eternity. We shall be like to Him (i. John iii. 2). Is there need of anything more to give us the highest conception of heaven? How lovely are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord, my heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God (Ps. Ixxxiii). How weary of the world am I when I contemplate heaven!
St. Teresa of Avila
St. Teresa (1515-1582) was born in Avila and died in Alba, Spain. When only a child of seven, she ran away from home in the hope of being martyred by the Moors; in this way, she said she could come to see God. At the age of eighteen she joined the Carmelite Order and chose Christ as her heavenly Spouse. With the help of St. John of the Cross she reformed most of the Carmelite convents and founded new ones. She reached the highest degree of prayer and through prayer obtained such knowledge of divine things that in 1970 Pope Paul VI named her the first woman Doctor of the Church.
The Interior Castle
Interior Castle is the work of 16th century Carmelite nun and Christian mystic St. Teresa of Avila. She wrote Interior Castle as a spiritual guide to union with God. Her inspiration for the work came from a vision she received from God. In it, there was a crystal globe with seven mansions, with God in the innermost mansion. St. Teresa interpreted this vision as an allegory for the soul's relationship with God; each mansion represents one place on a path towards the "spiritual marriage"--i.e. union--with God in the seventh mansion. One begins on this path through prayer and meditation. She also describes the resistance that the Devil places in various rooms, to keep believers from union with God. Throughout, she provides encouragements and advice for spiritual development. Beyond its spiritual merit, Interior Castle also contains much literary merit as a piece of Spanish Renaissance literature. A spiritually challenging book, Interior Castle stands on par with other great works of this time, such as Dark Night of the Soul.