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"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Fr. Campbell, “They that hope in the Lord” (Is.40:31)

“They that hope in the Lord” (Is.40:31)

“Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it to you… Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full” (Jn.16:23b,24b).  

God takes care of His own. But the world’s trust lies elsewhere – trust in money; your security is in your possessions; build up a fat bank account; invest in the stock market; invest in gold because it never loses its value. Well, such things are apt to fail very quickly, especially if you have been hoodwinked into making bad investments, such as investing in gold that isn’t really there. People jumped to their deaths from tall buildings during the Great Depression in the 30’s. We read in the Book of the Apocalypse about the merchants lamenting the fall of the great city, Babylon, which represents worldly wealth and commerce:

“Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city, for in one hour has thy judgment come!... Woe, woe, the great city, wherein all who had their ships at sea were made rich out of her wealth; for in one hour she has been laid waste!” (Apoc.18:10b;19b).

Others are telling us to get ready for another great depression and the resulting social chaos. This may be good advice, but many will be unable to prepare since they are living a “hand to mouth” existence as it is. What are they to do? They tell us to pile up supplies of food and water, warm clothing, first aid kits, sleeping bags, etc. The list is long. Have plenty of gas for your car or truck, because you will want to get to a safe place. But most of us don’t have a country estate or even a shack in the wilderness stocked with supplies to which we can hurry if the great crash comes. However, there is NO safe place if God is not there.

It may make good sense to invest wisely and to prepare for emergencies according to our means. We don’t toss reason out the window. But Our Lord didn’t think along those lines. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. This is the advice Jesus gives us: 

“Therefore I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on… Look at the birds of the air: they do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you of much more value than they?... Consider how the lilies of the field grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which flourishes today but tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more you, O you of little faith! Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or, ‘What shall we drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’ (for after all these things the gentiles seek); for your Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be given you besides. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow; for tomorrow will have anxieties of its own. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Mt.6:25a,26,28b-34).

God has always taken good care of His people. It was a great wrong when Joseph, son of Israel (Jacob), was sold into slavery in Egypt by his envious brothers. But God’s plan was at work. Joseph gained the favor of the Pharaoh and was appointed steward of his kingdom. Joseph stored up stockpiles of grain during seven years of plenty, and when that was followed by seven years of famine, Joseph was able to dole out emergency supplies to the needy. The famine also struck Joseph’s family, so they came down to Egypt looking for help, never suspecting that it would come from their betrayed brother, Joseph. Joseph forgave them and brought the whole family including his father, Israel (Jacob), to live in Egypt.  

Years later, when their descendants had become slaves in Egypt, God brought them out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses. God sent them manna, or bread from heaven (Ex.16:14), and quail (Num.11:31-34), so that they had plenty to eat. When they were in need of water, God commanded Moses to strike the rock, and streams of fresh water gushed forth (Ex.17:2-7).

When the wine ran out at the marriage feast of Cana, Jesus changed six large jars of water into the best of wine at His Mother’s request (Jn.2:1-11).

When the people were hungry after Jesus taught them at length about the Kingdom of God, not wanting them to faint on the way home, He fed thousands of them by multiplying five loaves and two fish (all four gospels), and thousands more on another occasion by multiplying seven loves and a few fishes (Matthew and Mark). 

When Peter and his fellow apostles fished all night and caught nothing, Jesus told them to lower their nets again for a catch, and their two boats were on the point of sinking under the load of the fish they netted (Lk.5:4-11).

God takes care of His own. But there is no safe place for those who are not God’s obedient servants, even though they make the most elaborate preparations by storing up supplies, building safe refuges, and storing up guns and ammunition to protect them. The best laid plans can fail with the jolt of an earthquake, the force of floods or hurricanes, or bombs launched by an enemy. We read in the psalms:

“Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it. Unless the Lord guard the city, in vain does the guard keep vigil. It is vain for you to rise early, or put off your rest, you that eat hard-earned bread, for he gives to his beloved in sleep” (Ps.126 [127]).

And from the prophet Isaiah:  

“It is he (God) that giveth strength to the weary, and increaseth force and might to them that are not. Youths shall faint and labor: and young men shall fall by infirmity. But they that hope in the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall take wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Is.40:29-31).