4th Tuesday of Lent
“The impious have multiplied beyond all number; they can no longer be counted. But your true disciples, O my Savior, how rare are they, how scattered throughout the earth, and even in your Church! Scandal mounts, and charity cools. We seem to be living in the times you predicted: “When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth? (Luke 18:8).”
These words were written almost 400 years ago by the French Spiritual writer Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, but they obviously could have been written yesterday and still be equally on target. Perhaps that’s because the temporal situation of the Church and believers is much the same in any age, and differs only in the cultural context of our lives. Living a Christian life in any age is a challenge because evil does not yield easily to good, falsehood to truth, or nature to grace.
But I actually find these words comforting. As St Peter wrote to his disciples, “stand fast knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.” (1 Pt 5:9) Well we might add, “knowing that the struggle with evil and the consequent suffering is much the same through the ages.” Knowing this fact is consoling, but even more consoling is the fact that we have at our disposal the gushing river of grace that is described in Ezekiel 47: “the water flowed down from the right side of the temple,” that ultimately “empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh.”
Surely the Church gives us this reading in Lent to encourage us, just as the Transfiguration encouraged the three Apostles to strengthen their faith in preparation for their struggle of faith as the Lord engages evil in His Passion. What confidence it should give us to know that the torrents of grace flowing from His side — just as Ezekiel had prophesied “the water flowed down from the right side of the temple,” — produces for us an abundance of life and healing remedies “and there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh” This torrent of grace is a constant source of renewal and fruitfulness in us who receive it – “their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail. Every month they shall bear fresh fruit, for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary.” – and this gift is the basis of our hope and our joy as we enter the fray at the side and from the side of Christ Our Savior.
What General would be discouraged who has an unending supply line to the battle front? And not just an unending supply, but a supply that refreshes and heals his wounded, and even raises them to life, and weapons that are destined to destroy the enemy’s power? But that is precisely our situation. We are not alone, and we are not unarmed, and we are not at the enemy’s disposal. We are Christ’s good soldiers, as Paul Says, wielding weapons of truth and love and having at our disposal the grace to sustain us and carry us through to victory, “in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left.” 2 Cor. 6:7. And we are certainly not the general, for He alone is that, but we are just his “buck privates,” his lowest of soldiers, and yet destined to win the greatest of all victories, the salvation of our souls.
Categories: Weekday reflections