13th Tuesday in Ordinary Time
Memorial of Saint Irenaeus
Amos 3: 1-8, 4: 11-12; Matthew 8: 23-27
The passage taken from the Book of the Prophet Amos brought to mind images of Aslan and Narnia. The profession of faith recounted in Deuteronomy is very straightforward. “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God. The Lord is One” (Deut. 6:4). The one God is the Lion of Israel. When His roars, who will not be afraid? Despite our egalitarian approach to life, we are not God’s equals and we cannot domesticate the Lion of Israel. We live in His kingdom by His grace and benevolent will. This can prove disconcerting in a “feel good” society. Some of us may remember Mr. Beaver telling Lucy “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King I tell you” The Lion of Israel is ferocious, not safe, but at the same time He is good, because as Saint John wrote, “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8). “Let us love one another for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 JN. 4:7). To love God is to be willing to take risks, because love is not safe. Divine love does not ignore sin, but allows for mercy. Love isn’t safe, but it is good and seeks the truth.
“The lion roars – who will not be afraid?” The Psalmist wrote, “The fool says in his heart, there is no God” (Ps. 14:1). Since there is no God, the individual considers himself free to do whatever he or she wills. We seem to keep forgetting that God does not need our belief in Him for Him to exist. The ancients knew this and celebrated it in their liturgical songs. “Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered. May His foes flee before Him. May He blow them away like smoke – as wax melts before the fire, may the wicked perish before God” (Ps. 68: 1-2). With all His might, God protects all that is His own. As we read in the Gospel of Saint John, “I give them eternal life, and they will never be lost; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (Jn. 10: 28-29). God not only speaks words of love, He has the power to save all those He has made His own
“It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). When the Lion of Israel roars we have no reason to fear. While He may not be safe, He is good and loving. Certainly the Prophet Isaiah understood this. “The right arm of the Lord is not too weak to save, not His ear deaf to hear” (Is. 59:1). The Lion of Israel is on the prowl, looking for someone He can free from slavery to the world and claim as His very own. The Lion of Israel is not tame, nor can He be domesticated, yet He roars with the inexpressible fullness of Love. While the circumstances may differ, each of us is called to have faith and trust in the Lord. When we hear the roar of the Lion of Israel, let us kneel before Him in humble adoration. True life begins when we stop living for safety and start risking self-sacrificing love.