Morning Meditation for Wednesday – Twentieth Week after Pentecost ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Morning Meditation

EVIL DOERS SHALL BE CUT OFF.

When the tower of Siloe fell and killed eighteen persons, the Lord said to those who were present: Think you that they also were debtors above all the men that dwelt in Jerusalem? No, I say to you: but except you do penance you shall all likewise perish.

I.

Oh, how just God is when the time of vengeance arrives! He causes the sinner to be ensnared and strangled in the net his own hands have woven. The Lord shall be known when he executeth judgments; the sinner hath been caught in the works of his own hands (Ps. ix. 17). Baronius relates how Herodias died, who caused St. John the Baptist to be beheaded. As she was crossing frozen water one day the ice broke under her, and she remained with her head above the ice. In her violent struggling for life, the head was severed from the body, and thus she died.

Let us tremble when we see others punished, knowing as we do, that we ourselves have deserved the same punishments. When the Tower of Siloe fell and killed eighteen persons, the Lord said to those who were present: Think you that they also were debtors above all the men that dwelt in Jerusalem? Do you think that these poor creatures alone were in debt to God’s justice on account of their sins? No, I say to you: but except you do penance, you shall all likewise perish (Luke, xiii. 4-5). O, how many unfortunate men damn themselves by false hope in the Divine mercy? Yes, God is merciful, and therefore assists and protects those who hope in His mercy: He is the protector of all that trust in him (Ps. xvii. 31). But He assists and protects those only who hope in Him, with the intention of changing their lives, not those whose hope is accompanied by a perverse intention of continuing in sin. The hope of the latter is not acceptable to God; He abominates and punishes it: Their hope, the abomination of the soul (Job. xi. 20). Poor sinners, their greatest misery is, that they are on their way to hell, and do not know their state. They jest, and they laugh, and they despise the threats of God, as if God had assured them that He would not punish them. “Whence,” exclaims St. Bernard, “this accursed security?” Unde haec securitas maledicta? Accursed security which brings you to hell! I will come to them that are at rest, and dwell securely (Ezech. xxxviii. 11). The Lord is patient, but when the hour of chastisement arrives, then will He justly condemn to hell those wretches who continue in sin, and live in peace, as if there were no hell at all for them.

Let there be no more sin. Let us be converted if we wish to escape the scourge which hangs over us! If we do not cease from sin, God will be obliged to punish us: For evil-doers shall be cut off (Ps. xxxvi. 9). The obstinate are not only finally shut out from Paradise, but hurried off the earth, lest their example should draw others into destruction. Now the axe is laid to the root of the trees (Luke, iii. 9). It is said that the axe is laid, not to the branches, but to the root, so that it will be irreparably exterminated. When the branches are lopped, the tree continues still to live; but when the tree is torn up from the root, it then dies, and is cast into the fire. The axe is laid to the root. We should tremble lest God make us die in our sins, for if we so die we shall be cast into the fire of hell, where our ruin shall be eternal.

II.

But, you will say: I have committed many sins during the past, and the Lord has borne with me. I may, therefore, hope that He will deal mercifully with me in the future. Do not speak so. Say not: I have sinned, and what harm hath befallen me for the Most High is a patient rewarder (Ecclus. v. 4). God bears with you now, but He will not always bear with you. Now, therefore, stand up, that I may plead in judgment against you … concerning all the kindness of the Lord (1 Kings, xii. 7), said Samuel to the Hebrews. Oh how terribly does not the abuse of the Divine mercies assist in procuring the damnation of the ungrateful! Gather them together as sheep for a sacrifice, and prepare them for the day of slaughter (Jer. xii. 3). In the end those who will not be converted shall be victims of Divine justice, and the Lord will condemn them to eternal death, when the day of slaughter, the day of His vengeance shall have arrived. We have reason always to be in dread, as long as we are not resolved to abandon sin, lest that day should be already at hand. God is not mocked; for what things a man shall sow, these also shall he reap (Gal. vi. 7-8). Sinners mock God by confessing at Easter, or two or three times a year, and then returning to the vomit, and yet hoping after all that to obtain salvation. “He is a mocker, not a penitent,” says St. Isidore, “who continues to do that for which he says he is penitent”; but, God is not mocked! They hope for salvation!

What do they dare to expect? What things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. What things do men sow? Blasphemy, revenge, theft, impurity: what then do they hope for? He who sows in sin can hope to reap nothing but chastisements and hell. For he that soweth in his flesh, continues the same Apostle, of the flesh also shall reap corruption (Ib.)

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