Morning Meditation for Tuesday – Eighteenth Week after Pentecost ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Morning Meditation

OBSTINACY IN SIN ESPECIALLY BRINGS PUNISHMENT.

The cause of all our punishment by God is sin, especially obstinacy in sin. If we do not remove the cause of the scourge, how can we escape the scourge itself?

I.

The cause of all our chastisements is sin; and still more than sin, our obstinacy in it. We have offended God, and are, notwithstanding, unwilling to do penance. When God, calls us by His chastisements, He desires that we should hear Him; if He be not listened to, He will be compelled by our obstinacy to curse us: But if thou wilt not hear the voice of the Lord thy God … all these curses shall come upon thee; … Cursed shalt thou be in the city, cursed in the field … (Deut. xxviii. 15, 16, 17). When we offend God, we provoke all creatures to punish us. St. Anselm says that in the same manner as a servant, when he offends his master, draws down upon him the wrath, not only of his master, but of the whole family; so we, when we offend God, excite against ourselves the anger of all creatures. And St. Gregory says that we have more especially irritated against us those creatures which we have made use of against our Creator. God’s mercy holds back those creatures that they may not afflict us, but when He sees that we make no account of His threats, and continue to live on in our evil ways, He will then make use of those creatures to take vengeance on us for the injuries we have done Him: He will arm the creature for the revenge of his enemies. And the whole world shall fight with him against the unwise (Wis. v. 18-21). “There is no creature,” says St. John Chrysostom, “that will not feel anger when it sees its Lord in anger.”

If then we do not appease God by a true conversion, we shall never be free from chastisement. What folly, says St. Gregory, could be more extreme than to imagine that God should cease to chastise before we cease to offend? Many now come to the church, and hear a sermon, but go away without Confession, or change of life. If we do not remove the cause of the scourge, how can we expect to be delivered from the scourge itself?

II.

We continue to irritate God, and then wonder that God continues to chastise us. “We wonder why we are so unhappy, we who are so impure,” says Salvian. Do we think that God is appeased by the mere circumstance of our appearing at church without repenting of our sins, without restoring the property or character of our neighbour, without avoiding those occasions of sin which keep us at a distance from God? Ah, let us not mock the Lord! And now do not mock, lest your bonds be tied strait. (Is. xxviii. 22). Do not mock God, says the Prophet, lest those bonds which are binding you for hell be tied more tightly. Cornelius a Lapide, in commenting on the above passage of Isaias, says that when the fox is caught in the snare, its efforts to disentangle itself only serve to entangle it the more. “So also will it happen to sinners who while mocking at God’s threats and punishments, become more and more involved in them.” Let us be done with sin. Let us cease to irritate God. For I have heard of the Lord the God of Hosts, continues the Prophet, a consumption, and a cutting short upon all the earth. (Is. ib.)

Hear what the Lord says to you: Who required these things at your hands? (Is. i. 12). Who asked for your perpetual exercises and your visits of devotion to the church? I will have nothing from you unless you abandon sin: Offer sacrifice no more in vain (Ib. 13). Of what use are your devotions if you do not amend your lives? My soul hateth … your solemnities (Ib. 14). Know, says the Lord, that your homage and external devotions are hateful to my soul, if you think by these to avert chastisement without removing your offences: With burnt offerings thou wilt not be delighted; a sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit (Ps. 1. 18, 19). Neither devotions, nor alms, nor penitential works are accepted by God from a soul in the state of sin, and without repentance. God accepts the acts of him alone who is sorry for sin, and resolved upon a change of life.

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