The Prodigal Son, the Return by Tissot Jacques Joseph, 1862
THE Lord has been speaking non-stop since I arrived here in Paray-le-Monial. So much so, that he has been waking me up to converse in the night! Yes, I would think I was crazy too if it were not for my spiritual director ordering me to listen!
As we watch the world descend into unprecedented paganism, the gap between rich and poor continue to grow, and the innocence of children increasingly endangered by hedonistic ideologies, there is a cry rising from the Body of Christ for God to intervene. I hear more frequently these days Christians calling out for the fire of God to fall and purify this earth.
But God has always surprised His people with mercy when justice was deserving, both in the New and Old Testaments. I believe the Lord is preparing to surprise us again in a most unprecedented way. I hope to share more of these thoughts with you over the next few days as the World Congress of the Sacred Heart begins this evening here in this little French town where the Sacred Heart was revealed to St. Marguerite-Mary.
SURPRISED BY LOVE
The Mass readings the past few days have been about Nineveh which God threatened to destroy if the city would not repent. The prophet Jonah was sent to warn them, and the people, in fact, did repent. This frustrated Jonah who thought this might happen, thus leaving his prophecy unfulfilled—and egg on his face.
I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in clemency, loathe to punish. And now, LORD, please take my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.” But the LORD asked, “Have you reason to be angry? …should I not be concerned over Nineveh, the great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot distinguish their right hand from their left…?” (Jonah 4:2-3, 11)
There are several things I want to point out. First, Nineveh is a symbol of today’s “culture of death.” It was described by the Jews as ‘the bloody city, full of lies and robbery.’ The Destruction of Nineveh, David Padfield Abortion, atheistic ideologies, and corrupt financial systems are the hallmark of our times. Yet, God rebukes Jonah for wanting to see justice more than mercy. The reason is that the people “cannot distinguish their right hand from their left.”
In 1993, Blessed John Paul II delivered a powerful speech to the youth in Denver, Colorado in which he described a similar crisis in our times:
Vast sectors of society are confused about what is right and what is wrong, and are at the mercy of those with the power to “create” opinion and impose it on others. —JOHN PAUL II, Homily, Cherry Creek Park, Denver, Colorado, August 15th, 1993
The sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin. —POPE PIUS XII, Radio Address to the United States Catechetical Congress held in Boston; 26 Oct., 1946: AAS Discorsi e Radiomessaggi, VIII (1946), 288
If God looked upon Nineveh with pity, how much more does He look with compassion upon our culture where vast sectors of society are utterly lost—like the prodigal son?
In that story, we hear how this son—who had utterly rebelled against his father—was surprised by love. cf. Luke 15:11-32 When he felt that all he deserved was punishment, we read…
While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)
So too, Matthew the tax collector, Mary Magdalene the adulteress, Zacchaeus the dishonest, and the crucified thief were all surprised by Mercy that came to them precisely when they were in the depths of their sin.
Brothers and sisters, we are at the end of an era. The Church Fathers foresaw that God is going to purify the earth of wickedness and bring about a triumphant period of peace known in Scripture as the “thousand years” or “sabbath rest” or “seventh day” after the Antichrist is slain and Satan is chained for a time in the abyss. cf. Rev 19:19; 20:1-7
Since God, having finished His works, rested on the seventh day and blessed it, at the end of the six thousandth year all wickedness must be abolished from the earth, and righteousness reign for a thousand years… —Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius (250-317 A.D.; Ecclesiastical writer), The Divine Institutes, Vol 7.
…when His Son will come and destroy the time of the lawless one and judge the godless, and change the sun and the moon and the stars—then He shall indeed rest on the seventh day… after giving rest to all things, I will make the beginning of the eighth day, that is, the beginning of another world. —Letter of Barnabas (70-79 A.D.), written by a second century Apostolic Father
“He shall break the heads of his enemies,” that all may know “that God is the king of all the earth,” “that the Gentiles may know themselves to be men.” All this, Venerable Brethren, We believe and expect with unshakable faith. —POPE PIUS X, E Supremi, Encyclical “On the Restoration of All Things”, n. 6-7
But before then, there is coming a harvest of mercy.
THE HARVEST AT THE END OF THE AGE
Jesus said that throughout the ages, he would permit weeds to grow alongside the wheat, that is, evil men to persist alongside His Church. But at the end of the age, he would send His angels to gather the wheat into His barn, into His kingdom:
First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn. (Matt 13:30)
This harvest is also described in Revelation:
Then I looked and there was a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud one who looked like a son of man, with a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Another angel came out of the temple, crying out in a loud voice to the one sitting on the cloud, “Use your sickle and reap the harvest, for the time to reap has come, because the earth’s harvest is fully ripe.” (Rev 14:14-15)
But note, this is followed closely by a second harvest that is more ominous:
So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and cut the earth’s vintage. He threw it into the great wine press of God’s fury. (Rev 14:19)
In light of the revelations to St. Marguerite-Mary and St. Faustina, it would seem this first harvest is the impetus of God’s mercy rather than justice. That there is a “last effort” in this age in which the Lord will harvest as many souls into His “barn” a s possible before He cleanses the earth in the “great wine press” of His justice. Listen again to the prophetic message given to St. Marguerite in the 17th century, and then St. Faustina in the 20th:
This blessing was, as it were, a final effort of His love. He wanted to bestow upon men during these final centuries such loving redemption in order to snatch them from the control of Satan, whom He intended to destroy. He willed to place us under the sweet freedom of His rule of love, which He wanted to re-establish in the hearts of all who were willing to embrace this devotion [to the Sacred Heart]. —revealed to St. Marguerite-Mary, www.piercedhearts.org
…before I come as a just Judge, I first open wide the door of My mercy. He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice… —Divine Mercy in My Soul, Jesus to St. Faustina, Diary, n. 1146
Given that this prophecy of a last effort of His mercy began nearly 400 years ago, and everyone at that time is now long gone, it is clear that God’s plan unfolds in ways beyond our understanding. That it contains stages, and like a spiral, repeats and recycles until it finally culminates in its fullness. cf. The Spiral of Time, A Circle… A Spiral
The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Pet 3:9)
We see this mystery hidden in Christ’s parable where, throughout the day, he continues to invite workers into the vineyard, even up until the “last minute”:
Going out about five o’clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’ (Matt 20:6-7)
THE LAST HOUR
I believe we are entering into the last hour of God’s “final effort” to withdraw men from the empire of Satan. As we watch the world’s economy begin to fall like a house of cards, we are going to see unprecedented changes globally. But we aren’t ready to receive the mercy of God yet. We are not unlike the prodigal son who abandoned his entire heritage (as Europe has abandoned its Christian heritage). cf. Luke 15:11-32 He left his father’s house and entered into the darkness of sin and rebellion. So hardened had his heart become that he refused to come home even when he was broke (that is, I do not believe financial collapse will be enough); he would not come home when there was a famine; it was only when he was faced with his utter interior poverty, reaping the harvest of what he had sown by doing the unthinkable as a Jew—feeding pigs—that the prodigal son was ready to look into his heart and see his need (see The Seven Seals of Revolution).
God is going to surprise the world with Mercy. But we have to be ready and willing to receive it. Just as the prodigal son had to hit rock bottom before He was ready for an “illumination” of his conscience, so too this generation it seems must also come to recognize its utter poverty:
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. (Luke 15:18)
Blessed John Paul II was unable to read his last homily prepared for Divine Mercy Sunday, since he died on the vigil the eve before. However, ‘by the explicit indication’ of the pontiff, it was read by a Vatican official. It is a message that the world may indeed be about to be “surprised by love”:
To humanity, which at times seems to be lost and dominated by the power of evil, egoism and fear, the risen Lord offers as a gift his love that forgives, reconciles and reopens the spirit to hope. It is love that converts hearts and gives peace. How much need the world has to understand and accept Divine Mercy! —BLESSED JOHN PAUL II, the prepared homily for Divine Mercy Sunday that he never gave, as he passed away on the vigil of that feast; April 3rd, 2005. John Paul II was ‘explicit’ that this message be read in his absence; Zenit News Agency
I believe a spark from the Sacred Heart of Christ, a monumental grace leaping from His Divine Mercy, is coming. In fact, as I boarded my plane to France, I sensed Him say words that continue to burn in my heart:
The kindling is ready to be lit.
From [Poland] will come forth the spark that will prepare the world for My final coming. —Divine Mercy in My Soul, Jesus to St. Faustina, Diary, n. 1732
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