Monday, February 25, 2008

Dies irae, dies illa

Brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ,
If the Christian fundamentalists hear the Gospel of Mark 13: 14-32, they will preach that Christ’s second coming is imminent, and that is why we should to do this and that, and not doing this and that. They will have seminars “On the Last Day” based on this Gospel, or the traditionalists will sing again in fear the old pessimistic hymn:

“Dies Irae, Dies Illa,
Solvet saeculum in favilla:
Teste David cum Sibylla.
Quantus tremor est futurus,
quando Iudex est venturus,
cuncta stricte discursus!”

(The day of wrath, the day it is,
where everything is destroyed in ashes forever:
David and Sybilla foretold.
How great fear is imminent,
when the Judge is coming,
all are running everywhere in narrow place).

Facing this kind of people, we’d better listen to Jesus: “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them.

We misunderstand the Gospel if we interpret the Gospel that way. We still believe that Jesus will come for the second time to judge the living and the dead, but on the time nobody knows, only the Father knows. So, why we bother ourselves with analyzing such data or phenomena of the coming of the Lord? Jesus will come like a thief in the night. So only the vigilant persons will be saved, that’s all.

This periscope of the Gospel actually speaks of the spiritual resources to cope with adversity and hardship. So the key phrase to understand this periscope of the Gospel is: “Do not be afraid!” In times of distress do not be afraid. Why does Jesus say that? Because He knows that being His followers is living in a risky condition, especially in dealing with the wicked authorities. Here Jesus gives an encouragement to his disciples not to be afraid.

Do not be afraid. This phrase is so short, but it is really difficult to live it. Fear and worries color our life daily. We are afraid that we cannot do the papers due tomorrow. We are afraid whether what we have done could please our friends or not. We are afraid that we cannot finish the job that we have started. We are afraid of green spider toys laid on our bed.

We are afraid because we want to avoid suffering. We can do anything to avoid it. But we forget, that unavoidable suffering makes us as a Church mature. The suffering Church is the true Church, as her head is the Suffering Servant of Yahweh. That is why Jesus warns us his disciples, that if we follow Him seriously, we will suffer, but do not afraid. If we look at the history of the Church, the Church becomes so strong because it is based on the blood of the martyrs, “sanguis martyrum, semen Christianorum” (the blood of the martyrs is the seeds of the Christianity). And the Church in persecution bore many holy children and greatest saints.

But just compare when the Church became rich, powerful, and had its worldly position, which we call caesaropapism. The Church became weak in its spirit and became corrupted in its works and ministry, even then people called this era as the Dark Ages. Nothing was needed by the Church at that time, but reformations. But remember, the reformers were and are also persecuted, tortured, even killed. However, from this torture, many great holy men and women endured in their suffering, and from their suffering life appeared such great mystics thoughts and writings such as: Dark Night, Foundations, and previously: Paul’s letter from the prison, Ignatius from Antiokhia’s letter on the journey to Rome to be punished in circus there, etc.

Dear brothers and sisters, being not afraid in our life is difficult. That is why let us ask Jesus to always tell us and remind us that He is the Immanuel, God is with us, so that when unavoidably we are facing suffering, we are not afraid, and keep faithful to Him until death. Since he said to us in the book of Revelation: “DO NOT FEAR WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO SUFFER. BE FAITHFUL UNTIL DEATH, AND I WILL GIVE YOU THE CROWN OF LIFE” (Rev. 2:10).