- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

November 27, 2019

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO

34th Wednesday in Ordinary Time
Daniel 5:1-6, 13-14, 16-17:Luke 21:12-19

“When the king saw the wrist and hand that wrote, his face blanched; his thoughts terrified him, his hip joints shook, and his knees knocked” (Dan. 5:14). After reading this description, it is safe to assume the writing on the wall caught the king’s attention. The author of Hebrews had t right: “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). The encounter of the king reminds us that we are not dealing with an idol, a god of our own making. Like the king, we are drawn into an encounter with the Living God who is the creator and master of the universe. God is not the work of our hands, rather, we are the work of His. We did not make Him, He made us. I suspect the experience of the majesty of God would because for one’s face to go pale. This reality would even cause one’s thoughts to be scrambled. It is reasonable that the awesome presence of God would cause one’s hip joints to shake and knees to knock. What more can the individual in this situation say? Oh God, be merciful to me a sinner.

Self-willed, self-made individuals are happy to invent gods that neither see, nor hear, nor speak. However, there is a God who created all things and keeps them in existence and who knows the hidden motives of the human heart. The writing on the wall is there for us to read. God knows the length of our lives and knows when each of us will be called to make an account of ourselves. God is the just judge who places us on the scales of eternity. Which way will our actions tilt the balance? Are our hearts divided or are we single-minded? When placed on the scale, will our hearts condemn us? Will we be so overcome by the terrors of our lives that our hips will shake and our knees knock? God so loved the world that He sent His Only Son into the world to save sinners. When we see His outstretched hand, we have only to surrender to His merciful love.

The Lord before Whom we will stand is “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Rev. 22:13). He is the source of all that is and the goal to which we are directed. We are the product of His handiwork who are on a pilgrimage to His everlasting embrace. The apostle John encourages us: “Even if our hearts condemn us, we have come to believe that God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything” (1 Jn. 3:20). Allow me to add a few words spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be distressed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness” (Is. 41:10). Because of God’s infinite mercy, there is no need for our faces to go pale, for our thoughts to haunt us, for our hip joints to shake or for our knees to knock.

Even before we set out to seek the Lord, He is coming to seek us. Even when we hide from Him, he enters our most secret hiding places and tells us not to be afraid. In the encounter, He gives us the grace to build up the Kingdom. We cannot build the Kingdom if we are not founded on Christ. The harvest cannot be developed if the Seed of the Word has not taken root in our hearts. As followers of Christ, we are told to take up our cross, a cross that will release us from the world and will bind us to God. In our hearts, may there always be the joyful certainty that the Lord is at our side: that he does not abandon us, that he remains close to us and that he surrounds us with his love. To Him be glory, honor, and praise forever and ever. Amen.