This Week's Reflection
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 453: O Maggot Israel: Reflection on Is 41: 13-14
“For I am the LORD, your God, who grasp your right hand; It is I who say to you, Do not fear, I will help you. Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you maggot Israel; I will help you—oracle of the LORD; the Holy One of Israel is your redeemer.” IS 41: 13-14
I am the Lord your God, who grasp your right hand: It is I who say to you, “fear not, I will help you.” So says the prophet Isaiah today, and doesn’t this make us feel so warm and fuzzy? Isn’t this a beautiful image that God conveys, like a father taking a little child by the hand, so he won’t be afraid of what’s around him? Well, before we get too gushy with this, listen to the very next verse.
“Fear not, O worm Jacob, O maggot Israel; I will help you says the Lord.” Do you think God was maybe a little bit angry when he was telling Isaiah this? Yes, the Lord IS angry because Israel had gotten themselves into this big mess by turning to idolatry and turning away from God, and got themselves conquered by the Assyrian empire. God is pretty upset with them, but he still loves them, nonetheless. He IS going to fix all this, nonetheless. He IS going to stay faithful to Israel, even though Israel didn’t stay faithful to him. That’s what parents do isn’t it?
That’s the image I get when I read this passage. Say your teenage son gets caught with drugs and gets himself thrown in jail, and he’s used his one phone call to call you. What are you going to say? “I TOLD YOU not to hang around with those boys! I TOLD YOU they were going to get you in trouble some day!” You might say that, and you’d be perfectly within your rights to say that, but I’m guessing that’s not the first thing you’d say. The first thing I’m guessing you’d say after hearing the fear in your son’s voice, the trembling voice, is, “OK, sit tight, we’re coming to post your bail. Your uncle knows a good lawyer. Don’t worry. We can fix this.” But when you get him home, then you’re going to say, “I TOLD YOU not to hang around with those boys! I KNEW something like this was going to happen someday!”
That’s kind of what’s going on in this passage from Isaiah. The Lord is letting Israel know that He is not going to disown them for what they’ve done, He is going to get them through this big mess, but he is also going to let them feel his anger.
I felt God’s anger once. Back when I was stationed in Woonsocket, my favorite target was Paris Hilton. She represented everything I couldn’t stand about that generation; spoiled, rich,
over indulged, self-absorbed. So, whenever I was stuck for a homily, I’d google Paris Hilton and see what she was up to, and use it as a negative example in my homily.
At that time, the remake of the movie “House of Wax,” was coming on TV late and I wanted to see it, because I was a fan of the original with Vincent Price, (70’s Creature double feature 56), and also because Paris was in it and I wanted to see her die, even though it was a fake Hollywood death. I didn’t care! And I wanted it to be gross and gory! So, this movie is wearing on, it’s getting late, I’m getting tired, young people are getting picked off one by one, and then I get the horrific thought, ‘What if Paris survives?!’ Because you know how in these movies one or two always get away? Well, sure enough, the psycho killer finally starts chasing Paris. She did die. It was gory. I went to bed feeling edified. A couple weeks later I’m having dinner with friends. And I’m telling them about the movie and being crude in my humor.
Now I’m not a mystic, but I do believe the Lord has spoken to me several times in my life and that night was one of them. This was the first time I felt his anger. Driving home I heard, “How dare you, priest of God, talk that way about my beloved daughter, whom I love and
whom I died for? How dare you, priest of God, talk that way about my beloved daughter, whom I love and whom I died for?” I went to confession the next day!
Don’t ever believe, my brothers and sisters, that God can’t get angry. He certainly CAN. But he’s also ready to forgive the repentant heart, so repent of your sins, brothers and sisters. But let’s make a real effort not to do anything to anger him in the first place. --Father Michael Anthony Sisco
Quote from a saint
“Public, notorious sinners may be spoken of freely, provided always even then that a spirit of charity and compassion prevail, and that you do not speak of them with arrogance or presumption, or as though you took pleasure in the fall of others. To do this is the sure sign of a mean ungenerous mind. And, of course, you must speak freely in condemnation of the professed enemies of God and His Church, heretics and schismatics,—it is true charity to point out the wolf wheresoever he creeps in among the flock.” -St Francis de Sales
“HAIL, thou that art most venerable, Queen of Peace, most holy Mother of GOD; through the Sacred Heart of JESUS, thy Son, the Prince of Peace, procure for us the cessation of his anger, that so He may reign over us in peace. Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who sought thy prayers was forsaken by GOD. Inspired with this confidence, I come unto Thee. Despise not my petitions, O Mother of the Incarnate Word; but in thy loving-kindness hear and answer me, O merciful, O sweet Virgin Mary”. -Raccolta 197; 300 Days indulgence, Plenary once/month under usual conditions
Questions for Reflection
Have you ever felt God’s anger?
Is it necessary to repent to experience God’s mercy?
How does God’s anger reveal more His mercy?
Some people say that an “angry God” is merely a conception of the Old Testament and that the New Testament reveals God is compassionate. What is the Catholic viewpoint on this? What passages from the Gospel can you use to demonstrate God’s anger? What Old Testament passages show God’s mercy? How can an angry God be reconciled with a compassionate God?
How can we be charitable in speaking about notorious sinners?
How should we speak about those in the Church who have betrayed their office?
How does God reveal his mercy through Our Lady?
How can we be instruments of God’s mercy?
St. James writes: “the wrath of a man does not accomplish the righteousness of God” Jas 1:20. Why is it important to control our own anger?