God Is Merciful for a Season, and Then Chastises, Part 2

And let us know, that when God wishes to punish, He is able and knows how to do it. The daughter of Sion shall be left . . . as a city that is laid waste. -----Is. 1:8. How many cities do we not know to have been destroyed and levelled with the ground, by reason of the sins of the inhabitants, whom God could no longer bear with! One day, Jesus Christ being within sight of the city of Jerusalem, gazed upon it, and thinking of the ruin which her crimes were to draw down upon her, our Redeemer, Who is so full of compassion for our miseries, began to weep: Seeing the city, He wept over it, saying: they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone, because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation. -----Luke 19:41. Poor city, there shall not be left in thee a stone upon a stone, because thou hast not been willing to know the grace which I gave thee in visiting thee with so many benefits, and bestowing upon thee so many tokens of My love; whilst thou hast ungratefully despised Me, and driven Me away. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, . . . how often would I have gathered thy children . . . and thou wouldst not, behold your house shall be left to you desolate. -----Luke 13:34. Sinful brother, who knows whether God does not at this moment look upon your soul and weep? Perhaps He sees that you will not turn to account this visit which He now pays you, this summons which He gives you to change your life. How often would I . . . and thou wouldst not. How often, says the Lord, have I wished to draw you to Me by the lights which I have given you? How often have I called you and you would not hear Me? You have been deaf to Me and fled from Me. Behold your house shall be left to you desolate. Behold I am already on the point of abandoning you, and if I abandon you, your ruin will be inevitable, irreparable.

We would have cured Babylon, but she is not humbled, let Us forsake her. -----Jer. 51:9. The physician when he sees that the patient will not adopt his remedies, which he himself carries to him with so much kindness, and which the other flings out of the window-----what does he do at length? He turns his back upon him and abandons him. My brethren, by how many calls, has not God endeavored to avert damnation from you? What more can He do? If you damn yourself, can you complain of God Who has called you in so many different ways? God calls you by the voice of His minister, He calls you by the voice that is within you, he calls you by His favors, He calls you lastly by temporal punishments; in order that you may learn to dread those which are eternal. St. Bernadine of Sienna says that for certain sins, more especially those which are scandalous, there is no more effectual method of doing away with them than by temporal punishments. But when the Lord sees that His favors serve only to make the sinner more insolent in his evil life, when He sees that His threats are disregarded, when He perceives, in a word, that He speaks and is not heard; then He abandons the sinner, and chastises Him with eternal death. Therefore does He say, Because I called and you refused . . . and have neglected My reprehensions, I will also laugh in your destruction and will mock when that shall come which you feared. -----Provo 1:24. You, says God, have laughed at My words, My threats, and My chastisements, your last chastisement shall come, and then I will laugh at ye. And it, (the rod) was turned into a serpent. -----Exod. 4:3. St. Bruno, in his commentary upon this passage, says, "the rod is turned into a serpent when they will not amend." The eternal will succeed the temporal punishment.

Oh how well does not God know how to chastise, and so to order it that from the instruments and motives of sin should be drawn the chastisement! That they might know that by what things a man sinneth, by the same also he is tormented. -----Wisd. 11:17. The Jews put Jesus Christ to death for fear the Romans should seize on their possessions. If we let Him alone, said they, all will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away our place and nation. -----John 11:48. But the same sin of putting Jesus Christ to death was the cause of their being shortly after despoiled of MARYeverything by the Romans. "They feared they should lose temporal possessions," says St. Augustine, "and thought not of eternal life, and so lost both." In trying to save their possessions, they lost their souls; the punishment came, and they lost both. Thus it falls out with many; they lose their souls for the things of earth; but God often condemns them to beggary in this world, and reprobation in the next.

My brethren, provoke no longer the anger of your God, know that in proportion to the multitude of His mercies towards you, in proportion to the length of time He has borne with you, your punishment will be greater if you do not amend. "The Lord makes up for the slowness of His chastisement," says St. Gregory, "by its grievousness when it does come." Woe to thee, Corozain, thus does the Lord speak to a soul that has abused His favors, Woe to thee Bethsaida, for if in Tyre and Sidon had been wrought the mighty things which have been wrought in you, they would have done penance long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. -----Luke 10:13. Yes, my brethren, if the graces which have been given to you had been given to a Turk or an Indian, if in Tyre and Sidon had been wrought the mighty works which have been wrought in you, he would have now been a Saint, or at least have done great penance for his sins; and have you become a Saint? Have you at least done penance for your many mortal sins, for your many evil thoughts, words, and scandals? See you not how God is angry with you? How He stands with His scourge in His hand? Do you see not death hanging over you.

And what are we to do? You inquire: are we to despair? No, God does not wish us to despair. Let us go with confidence to the throne of grace: that is what we are to do, as St. Paul exhorts us, in order that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid. -----Heb. 4:16. Let us at once go to the throne of grace that we may receive the pardon of our sins, and the remission of the punishment which overhangs us. By seasonable aid the Apostle means to convey that the aid which God may be willing to lend us today He may deny tomorrow. At once, then, to the throne of grace.

But what is the throne of grace? Jesus Christ, my brethren, is the throne of grace. And He is the propitiation for our sins. -----1 John 2:2. Jesus it is Who by the merit of His blood can obtain pardon for us, but we must apply immediately. The Redeemer, during his preaching in Juda, cured the sick, and dispensed other favors as He went along; whoever was on the spot to ask a favor of Him, obtained it; but whoever was negligent, and allowed Him to pass without a request, remained as He was. Who went about doing good. -----Acts 10:38. It was this caused St. Augustine to say: "I fear Jesus passing by;" by which he meant to express that when the Lord offers us His grace, we must immediately correspond, doing our utmost to obtain it, that otherwise He will pass on and leave us without it. Today, if you shall hear His voice, harden not your hearts. -----Ps. 94:8. Today God calls you; give yourself to God today; if you wait for tomorrow, intending to give yourself to Him then, perhaps He will have ceased to call, and you will remain deserted.

Mary, the Queen and the mother of mercies, is also a throne of grace, as St. Antoninus says. Hence, if you see that God is angry with you, St. Bonaventure exhorts you to have recourse to the hope of sinners. "Go, have recourse to the hope of sinners: Mary is the hope of sinners, Mary who is called the mother of holy hope. -----Ecclus. 24:24.

But we must take notice that holy hope is the hope of that sinner who repents him of his evil ways, and determines upon a change of life, but if anyone pursues an evil course in the hope that Mary will succor and save him, such a hope is false, such a hope is bad and rash. Let us then repent of our sins, resolve to amend, and then have recourse to Mary with a confidence that she will assist and save us.

(Act of Contrition.)