“BEHOLD YOUR HOUSE SHALL BE LEFT TO YOU DESOLATE.”
When the Lord wishes to punish He is able to do so. The daughter of Sion shall be left … as a city that is laid waste. How many cities have been destroyed and levelled to the ground because of the sins of the inhabitants whom God could not bear with any longer! How often, says God, have I called you and you would not listen? You have been deaf to My call. Behold your house shall be left to you desolate.
When the Lord wishes to punish He is able to do so. The daughter of Sion shall be left … as a city that is laid waste (Is. i. 8). How many cities have been destroyed and levelled with the ground because of the sins of the inhabitants whom God could no longer bear with. One day as Jesus Christ beheld the city of Jerusalem, He thought of the ruin her crimes were to draw down upon her, and full of compassion for her miseries, He 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 xix. 41, 44). Unfortunate 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. 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 xiii. 34, 35). 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 grace which He gives you to change your life. How often, says the Lord, have I wished to draw you to Me by the lights 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 and irreparable.
We would have cured Babylon, but she is not healed; let us forsake her (Jer. li. 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 patient flings away — what does he do at length? He turns his back upon him and abandons him. But by how many remedies, by how many inspirations, by how many calls, has not God endeavoured to avert damnation from you? What more can He do? If you lose your soul, can you complain of God Who has called you in so many different ways? 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 to you which you feared (Prov. i. 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 your destruction. The rod was turned into a serpent (Exod. iv. 3). St. Bruno says the rod of correction is turned into a serpent when sinners will not amend. The eternal will succeed the temporal punishment.
Oh how well does God know how to chastise! By what things a man sinneth, by the same also he is tormented (Wisd. xi. 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 xi. 48). But the very sin of putting Jesus Christ to death was the cause of their being shortly after despoiled of everything 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 give their souls for the things of earth; but God often condemns them to beggary in this world, and reprobation in the next.
Are we to despair, then? No, God does not wish us to despair. Let us go with confidence to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid (Heb. iv. 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 threatens. By seasonable aid the Apostle means to convey that the aid which God may be willing to lend us today He may deny tomorrow. Let us go at once, then, to the throne of grace.
But what is the throne of grace? Jesus Christ is the throne of grace. And he is the propitiation for our sins (1 John ii. 2). Jesus it is Who by the merits of His Blood can obtain pardon for us, but we must go to Him immediately. During His preaching in Judea, Jesus cured the sick, and dispensed other favours as He went along. Whoever was on the spot to ask a favour obtained it; but whoever was negligent, and allowed Jesus to pass, remained as he was. 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, otherwise He will pass on and leave us without it. Today, if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts (Ps. xciv. 8). Today God calls; give yourself to God today; if you wait for tomorrow, intending to give yourself to Him then, perhaps He will have ceased to call; He will have passed by, and you will remain forsaken.
Mary, the Queen and Mother of Mercy, is also a throne of grace. She is called the mother of holy hope (Ecclus. xxiv. 24). But we must take notice that holy hope is the hope of the sinner who repents of his evil ways, and determines upon a change of life; but if any one pursues an evil course in the hope that Mary will succour and save him, such a hope is false, such a hope is wicked and rash. Let us, then, repent of our sins and resolve to amend, and then have recourse to Mary with a confidence that she will assist and save us.