Lin Weeks Wilder

Lin Weeks Wilder

Christianity, confession, conversion, faith, Old Testament

Arrogance and Scorn have now grown strong.

arrogance and scorn have now grown strong
arrogance and scorn have now grown strong

“Arrogance and scorn have now grown strong;

it is a time of disaster and violent anger.” The speaker is Mattathias in the first book of Maccabees. “King Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, each abandoning his particular customs. All the Gentiles conformed to the command of the king, and many Israelites were in favor of his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath.”

Taken from the Monday Office of Readings of the Divine Office, the words of the ancient king ring eerily familiar 2300 years later. All should be one people meant forgoing the Law…”letting themselves be defiled with every kind of impurity and abomination, so that they might forget the law and change all their observances.”

Primary among the reasons that I love praying the Liturgy of the Hours is the reflection I see in the mirror provided by these Old Testament readings. A panorama which reveals clearly my own sin and those of all around me.

Love a panorama of sin?

Sounds odd when put that way but here is why I wrote that. We tend to think that ours are the worst of days: when compared with earlier times, we believe our politicians to be the most corrupt, our wars to be the most brutal, and our depravities to exceed any of those who came before us.

To assure that Hellenization would be followed throughout the land, Antiochus appointed inspectors to assure that all were following Greek customs and declaring obeisance to the Greek gods. Including Judah-Israel. Altars were desecrated, holy scrolls burned, and all observing the law were put to death. Jewish women with circumcised babies were murdered along with their child, found with their dead infants hanging around their necks.

These were the barbarous methods used in the third century before the birth of Christ on those refusing to conform with the king’s command to walk away from the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob.


Think again.

The persecution lasted throughout the life of Matthias

He exhorted his sons as he lay dying: “Arrogance and scorn have grown strong; it is a time of disaster and violent anger. Therefore my sons, be zealous for the law and give your life for the covenant of our fathers.”

I find the knowledge that ours is not the worst strangely comforting. For, of course, He shows us that the life of His followers is one of persecution. That He knows our sin far more intimately than any of us could withstand.

There, then, in that most awful hour, knelt the Saviour of the world, putting off the defences of His divinity, dismissing His reluctant Angels, who in myriads were ready at His call, and opening His arms, baring His breast, sinless as He was, to the assault of His foe,—of a foe whose breath was a pestilence, and whose embrace was an agony. There He knelt, motionless and still, while the vile and horrible fiend clad His spirit in a robe steeped in all that is hateful and heinous in human crime, which clung close round His heart, and filled His conscience, and found its way into every sense and pore of His mind, and spread over Him a moral leprosy, till He almost felt Himself to be that which He never could {337} be, and which His foe would fain have made Him.
Oh, the horror, when He looked, and did not know Himself, and felt as a foul and loathsome sinner, from His vivid perception of that mass of corruption which poured over His head and ran down even to the skirts of His garments! Oh, the distraction, when He found His eyes, and hands, and feet, and lips, and heart, as if the members of the Evil One, and not of God!
Are these the hands of the Immaculate Lamb of God, once innocent, but now red with ten thousand barbarous deeds of blood? are these His lips, not uttering prayer, and praise, and holy blessings, but as if defiled with oaths, and blasphemies, and doctrines of devils? or His eyes, profaned as they are by all the evil visions and idolatrous fascinations for which men have abandoned their adorable Creator?
And His ears, they ring with sounds of revelry and of strife; and His heart is frozen with avarice, and cruelty, and unbelief; and His very memory is laden with every sin which has been committed since the fall, in all regions of the earth, with the pride of the old giants, and the lusts of the five cities, and the obduracy of Egypt, and the ambition of Babel, and the unthankfulness and scorn of Israel…

St John Henry Newman

St. Paul explains.

“According to the law, almost everything is purified by blood, and without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness…but the heavenly realities called for better sacrifices. For Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a mere copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself now on our behalf. …He has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sins once for all by his sacrifice…”

It feels overwhelming does it not? But we are given someone who can tell us precisely what to do when we feel that it’s all too much, too hard.

They’d been out all night and caught nothing. In fact, when Jesus tells him to ‘put out your boat into deep water and lower your nets for a catch,’ St. Peter replies that they’ have worked hard all night and caught nothing.’
Why does he then go back out? Why the immediacy of Peter’s added, “But at your command, I will lower the nets…
It is all too tempting to ascribe Peter’s mysterious answer to what we know now about Peter, he is after all a saint. It was Peter to whom God the father gave the knowledge of Christ as the Messiah. But there’s a part of us that knows we’re dodging the meaning of what Luke is telling us here…or more accurately, perhaps it is that part of us that hopes we can overcome our fatigue, our exhaustion…so that when we hear His voice telling us to take the risk, open our mouth, put out into the deep, we’ll hear with Peter:
Be not afraid, from now on you will be catching men. ”St Peter’s Catch

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Lin Wilder

Lin Wilder has a doctorate in Public Health from the UT Houston with a background in cardiopulmonary physiology, medical ethics, and hospital administration. 

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