Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Slow and Steady Apocalypse

I have friends and relatives who think that the world is facing a minor chastisement by God.  In the course of this minor chastisement, at least a third of the world's population will disappear.  I know that many people would be bothered that 1/3 of the population dying would be considered a 'minor' chastisement.  But for these believers, it is significantly fewer people than, say, were killed when Noah and his family were the only survivors.

The who, what, and where of such punishment is the subject of news stories and private blogs all over the place.  So is the why.  We will be punished for failing to follow God's word, for a lack of faith, for tinkering with life to preserve the breath of those who are ready to die, and killing those who are ready to breathe.  We will be punished for our pettiness in dealing with others.  We will be punished for thinking about our hatred of others, rather than our love of neighbor, and our need for mercy.  We will be punished, and should be for all of the above, as well as our sins of omission.  I see a man or woman walking down the street, carrying groceries, children, or simply struggling to walk, and I keep driving with my empty minivan, because, you know, they could hurt me.  My lack of care for my fellow man is at the center for why I will be punished.  I deserve it.  I can take it.

It's the HOW of this that is my center of speculation.  Sometimes I read blogs and articles that seem to reflect a notion that the coming chastisement, which I do not doubt is coming, will come in some big way.  Comets will crash to earth.  Earthquakes will devour rivers and mountains and whole populations.  Storms will get wild and kill willy-nilly.  Fire, floods, hail, plagues...

It seems to me more likely that God will try to show us, in his mercy, that our punishments will be consummate with our crimes.  We didn't fall into sin over night.  We will descend into our punishment with an equal pace.  ---Disclaimer:  I am no prophet.  I am simply talking about what I believe, knowing God in His mercy will give us as much time as possible to turn ourselves toward Him.

My last post was about parish festivals and paranoia, but it was also about an expectation of vain self-centeredness.  If you, like me, have always been a bit preoccupied with how white your teeth are, how tan you skin is, how perfect your hair color, how skillfully applied your make-up, then you know that the perfect punishment would be the slowly apparent inability to counteract the aging process.  You may even find that the remedies you've used to preserve youth will accelerate your aging.  Wouldn't that be a perfect punishment?

What if you have always allowed abortion to continue through omission?  What if you never spoke up when you encountered a friend or colleague who was about to have an abortion?  What if you were a politician who voted for abortion rights, while being 'personally pro-life'?  Your slow, quiet, legislative support would be matched by what kind of punishment?  Maybe you would simply find yourself sterile.  Maybe you would have no grandchildren.  Maybe you would be lied to about your culpability in the culture of death as you blithely assumed you were being saved by the prayers and counseling of a priest who wanted to use your influence, rather than save your immortal soul.

I think we are in the midst of a slow drip of chastisement.  We didn't get here with 50,000,000 babies killed in a single nuclear attack.  We got here with one woman at a time choosing to quietly go to a clinic and convince herself that the baby didn't really exist yet, and her finances were inadequate to raise the child anyway.  It's been a slow drip of sin.  It will be a slow drip of punishment.

We are seeing it now.  Good faithful people are finding themselves infertile.  Because they are strong, prayerful, and faithful believers, God steers them to adopt the children who would be otherwise killed.  In this respect, God's mercy is both painful and healing.

Maybe that is what we can expect.  God's mercy will be painful and healing.  Kind of like when you get a bad burn, you will hurt for a while.  It may even hurt to the point that you can't imagine being able to tolerate the pain much longer.  In the end, you will survive the pain, live with the scars, and know that you shouldn't play with fire.


lalish said...

It is a slow painful healing when we look at ourselves in comparison to the One who sacrificed on our behalf. He rose to a new life, an eternal glory...He knows we can do the same. Can we trust in HIM? We are so capable!

Sister Lori said...

Great writing! I do believe those chastisements people are so worried about in Revelation are happening now and many are not aware of it. But the individual personal punishment here and now....very interesting of how it could come back to affect us...simiple sins of omission.

Sister Lori said...

Funny your comment about "punishment consummate to fit the crime" type of reasoning because I just read that by St. John Bosco and his dream about hell today!