There are days when I pray the Daily Office where a single word or phrase jumps off the page and captures my attention. And then there are days when a single theme throughout the readings presses hard upon my consciousness. This is one of those ‘latter’ days.
Lent is not for sissies or the faint-of-heart! And the lections for Lent bear that out in spades.
Jeremiah (4:23-26) has a vision of the land following the judgment of God upon his people (the judgment that will be meted out by the invading Babylonian forces). He describes it as a judgment that reverses creation: The earth returns to a state where it is ‘without from and void’, where the ‘heavens… have no light’, where even the ‘mountains’ shake. And why is this happening? All because ‘I looked, and behold, there was no man….’ (2:25).
It is Israel’s failure to be the new Adam, the one through whom God would create a new humanity, which both invites the judgment and creates the return to chaos. God the Creator has so fashioned his creation that it needs the ‘steward’, the one made in his image, to ‘reign’ on his behalf and for his created purposes.
It is a devastating vision.
Then, we turn to Paul in Romans (2:12-25) and his conclusion to his devastating, all-encompassing critique of humanity — both Greek and Jew! He states that ‘according to his gospel’ that ‘God (will) judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ’ on the ‘last day’! The judgment we all must face will center on whether our lives conformed to the ‘law’ of God; that is, whether we lived our lives according to our created natures and our Creator’s purposes. Did we or did we not fulfill the Creator’s vision for our lives?
It is a devastating question.
Finally, we turn to the Gospel of John (5:19-29), where Jesus, in so many words, claims to be the ‘Son of Man’, the Creator’s true and Last Adam, the Father’s true and glorious ‘Son’. Here is the ‘man’ that Jeremiah could not see; here is the ‘Christ’ that Paul declares will ‘judge the world’; here is the One through whom we exist and to whom we all shall give account.
Should we fear ‘seeing’ this One? Should we fear, in the present moment, ‘being’ in the presence of this One, who will, at the end of time, judge us all? Not in the least. Listen to what he says!
‘Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.’
It is a glorious and gracious statement!
Have you heard his voice? Have you heard it ‘today’?
Why not take a moment and listen.