THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for Wednesday of the First Week of Lent, February 25th, 2015
Liturgical texts here
THERE is a lot of chatter today about when this or that prophecy will be fulfilled, particularly over the next few years. But I frequently ponder on the fact that tonight might be my last night on earth, and so, for me, I find the race to “know the date” superfluous at best. I often smile when I think of that story of St. Francis who, while gardening, was asked: “What would you do if you knew the world would end today?” He replied, “I suppose I would finish hoeing this row of beans.” Herein lies the wisdom of Francis: the duty of the moment is the will of God. And God’s will is a mystery, most especially when it comes to time.
Jonah began his journey through the city… announcing, “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed”… When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.
Today, we are witness to some of the most brazen evil—depravity that is multiplying by the week. And so it is not surprising to hear everyone from lowly laymen to popes prophetically warning of the imminent dangers for this generation.
And yet, there is prophecy in the Church coming forth that I think few recognize as “prophetic” for the very reason that it is not as sensational as alleged words on bank crashes or world war. And it is this: that God is preparing a moment of evangelization in the world unlike anything we’ve ever seen. As Jesus says in today’s Gospel:
…at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.
I am not suggesting that the warnings are not important. No, they are essential to waking the body of Christ up. But there is something greater here, and it is that God is preparing an immense harvest. It is the “last chance,” you could say, before God purifies the earth. For…
…a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn. (Today’s Psalm)
Last year’s Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis is at the center of this prophetic vein, cf. Evangelii Gaudium, (The Joy of the Gospel) “On the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World” which continues John Paul II’s vision of a present and coming “new evangelization.” Francis recognizes that we are in the midst of an ‘epochal change’, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 52 but the central word is that of returning to the heart of the Church’s mission, which is evangelization—hence, the reason for my writings over the past several months focusing precisely on becoming authentic witnesses: holy men and women. For the darker it becomes, the brighter true Christians will be against the backdrop of evil. That is the most important thing to grasp today—not the date of this or that event.
In this regard, Benedict XVI has set the right tone:
…it should be kept in mind that prophecy in the biblical sense does not mean to predict the future but to explain the will of God for the present, and therefore show the right path to take for the future. —Cardinal Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI), Message of Fatima, Theological Commentary, www.vatican.va
When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out. (First reading)
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|1.||↑||cf. Evangelii Gaudium, (The Joy of the Gospel) “On the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World”|
|2.||↑||Evangelii Gaudium, n. 52|