Ask Him: “Are you He Who is to come or do we look for another?”
John knew from the womb Who the Lamb of God was but this question is to point to another truth so often forgotten: suffering comes before the Truth is revealed.
“Go tell John that the blind can see, the deaf can hear, the lepers are cleansed and the dead are raised and blessed is he who is not scandalized by me.” No one is scandalized by miracles but we are scandalized by tribulation. If tribulation comes before the Truth then we can understand the importance of St. John the Baptist in the eternal plan of salvation. He was a man of tribulation and at that moment he was held in prison because of the Truth that a man should not take his brother’s wife. How then does tribulation fit in the plan of God for us.
First, tribulation opens our eyes to our frailty. We are not supermen but rather clods of dust that can lose all our gifts in a matter of a moment. How quickly I found out that the body degenerates when something goes wrong with the heart. Nothing really matters because once life is withdrawn from this corpus then the material order fades into insignificance. Yes, tribulation gives one clarity of vision and faith becomes all the more alert to the work of God in sanctifying us.
Second, tribulation destroys the desire for the pleasures and powers of this world. It calls us to the reality that eternal life is all that really matters. No political position, no Disney Word adventure, no lobster meal can bring us the wisdom of a moment of trial. Suffering focuses the intellect on the goal of life: to attain union with the One Who created and loves me.
Third, tribulation atones for our sins. Not only can we apply our suffering to our souls but we can share this atonement with those in Purgatory. Tribulation becomes a power that generates its effects in an eternal family destined to be with God. For this reason the saints called tribulation their greatest friend for it proved to them that God was truly their Father for He treated us like His only begotten Son.
Fourth, tribulation reveals the presence of God to the soul. Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God. Through our sufferings our hearts are purified of their attachment to the world and its allurements. The soul has gained mastery over the body and the consequence is that we begin to see God at work in every aspect of our lives.
Fifth, tribulation is our means of meriting reparation for the souls of others. What Catholic does not know that to save one’s own soul one must be concerned about all our brothers and sisters. We must save souls everyday through our desire to sacrifice and make amends with them through the sacrament of Confession. Tribulation pays the price for the souls of sinners who have no other recourse but to the treasury of the Church.
Look at the truths that tribulation has revealed to us in just a few moments of reflection. Consider that John the Baptist prepared the way for the Truth and had to lay down his life because some doll danced to the favor of a king. John gave his head for the truth and our Lord would follow up with the words that would bring the world the truth incarnate. That Truth would hang upon a Cross to confirm its significance in this world.
Brothers and Sisters it is that Truth which enters our sin laden world as a child of promise while surrounded by those who wished Him dead. Herod did not want any supernatural youth taking his position. The Jews did not want a savior if that Savior wanted them to seek the Kingdom of God over the kingdom of this sick world. Many today forget the pattern of tribulation that opens the eyes of faith. We live amongst a people who have purchased the material existence as the only one that matters. It is not. The soul will live forever either with God in happiness or without Him in misery.
Let us turn to our Lady and deny ourselves daily for the sake of saving poor sinners who have no one else to care for them. Let us save a soul today. Give up your drink, forget that cigarette, lay down that cookie, perform some sacrifice to live up to your Catholic heritage. May God bless you and prepare you well for the coming of His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Come Lord Jesus, come,
P.S. Our reflection is early this week since tomorrow I fly to Houston to offer the mass there for the next four days. May we all receive many graces through the feast of our Lady’s Immaculate Conception.