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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Seraphim

The City of Angels is burning.

We remotely watch thousands of people as they watch everything they own in the world
up in flames, completely torched, nothing left but dust and ashes.

Watching the fires burn in the darkness recalls two very strange passages in Scripture,
both of which say the same thing: “Our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:29,
Deuteronomy 4:24).

Now, why would St. Paul ask us to think of God in this way?

Worse, how could a Catholic living in Los Angeles, a Christian who just lost everything he owns,
respond with love to a God who depicts Himself like this? Many Catholics in the City of Angels,
faced with those words, might very well join their voices with Peter, “Lord, this is a hard saying.
Who can accept it?” (John 6:60).

Worse, though we may not much like the image, it doesn’t go away: “I indeed baptize you with
water; but there shall come one mightier that I… he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and
with fire!” “I am come to cast fire on the earth; and would that it were already kindled!?” “If
any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as
through fire.”

It gives a different feel to Scripture: “The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light.”
“Christ is the light of the world.” “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness does not
comprehend it.”

Truly, we often don’t comprehend it. The name “seraphim”, the name borne by the angels
closest to God, means “the burning ones.” Los Angeles has become The Seraphim.

And whether you love it or hate it, think it heaven or hell, it doesn't matter.
Hell is fire, Purgatory is fire, Heaven is, apparently, fire.

What is up with that? What happened to that kind and gentle Jesus Whose arms our children
are always snuggling into?

Scripture tells us.

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing
you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Romans 12:19-21)

When we do kindness to others, we burn up something within them. Either the kindness burns
up their hatred of us, their hatred of God, so that nothing is left of this hatred, or their hatred is
stoked to greater fury. They hate us even more because of the kindness we have shown.

As we stare into the flames, we are enlightened.
Hatred and love both burn up something within us – the first burns away our affections for
others, our charity, the second burns away our affections for ourselves, our selfishness. There
is something in us that needs to be destroyed, and only fire can do it. Deep within our hearts,
Satan’s hatred struggles against God’s love. God fights fire with fire.

So, as we watch the videos of the fire, the answer is before us. What happens to an apple when you cut it and
leave it on the table? Its flesh turns from pearly white to a dark brown – the oxygen in the air burns and darkens
it. What is rust, but the “burning”, the slow oxidation, of metal? The fire that consumes the logs in my fireplace or
the beams of my house is a rapid version of what happens to the apple and the metal.

Fire can rust or burnish.

The things of this world pass away. Nothing in this world lasts forever, for the moth shall eat
them up as a garment: and the grub shall consume them as wool: but, says the Lord, my
salvation shall be for ever, and my justice from generation to generation.

We are not made for a five bedroom, four bath palace with an ocean view.
We are not made for a one bedroom, one bath mobile home in a trailer park.

We are made for God – without Him, nothing makes sense, nothing satisfies. He alone is three
Persons in perfect communion.

We are persons made in His image. Human persons are made for communion with both persons
and Persons.

We cannot commune with flat screen TVs, fast computers or even nature itself. We may see in
each of these, as through a glass, darkly, the image of the persons who created each. It may be
that the television, the computer, even the world, somehow dimly reflect or tell the glory of
their creators, but these are not enough.

We are made for eternity, not for loss. When we experience the loss of created things, we
remember that this was not the original goal anyway.

Though the fire burns through the night, at the rising of the sun, we can look beyond the
smoldering ashes and say, “See! He has made all things new!”

Leave the flickering TV, the glowing computer screen behind.
Light a candle in the darkness.
Visit Jesus in the Eucharist.
He took flesh for you, you were made for Him.
You were made for Fire.

"In this we rejoice, though now for a little while we may have to suffer various trials, so that the
genuineness of our faith, more precious than gold which, though perishable, is tested by fire,
may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

5 comments:

Graubo said...

Steve,

Are you still on the same psychotropics? No wonder you have trouble holding down a job. Did you wear out another welcome yet? Your wife will probably give her usual rave of you on your blog though. Don't be depressed. You sound so apocalyptic and Robertson-like.

Peace, Graubo

Anonymous said...

There is still hope that Barack Obama won't be the President of The United States. On a catholic blog "Some Have Hats" there is a posting on Dr. Alan Keyes suing the sec of state of California on the eligbility of Barack Obama becoming the president . there is also a case at the Supreme Court and on December 5th the justices will be in conference about Barack Obamma's eligbility. The major news media is pretty much silent on theses cases but if you go here you can hear it on plains radio or go to http:///www.freedommarch.org. The radio interviews are intresting with the legal counsels on these cases. Right now on the radio blog Freedom March there is attorney in these cases is talking till 8pm pacific time!

Jordanes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jordanes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jordanes said...

"Graubo," lying, libel, and calumny are mortal sins.

There is still hope that Barack Obama won't be the President of The United States.

Sure there is. America could be wiped out by a nuclear war or asteroid strike or continent-shattering earthquake sometime between now and the inauguration. Or Obama might suffer a sudden and unexpected heart attack. Or something like that. But since none of those things are likely to happen, we can expect that Barack Obama will be duly elected by the Electoral College and sworn in as president in January.

On a catholic blog "Some Have Hats" there is a posting on Dr. Alan Keyes suing the sec of state of California on the eligbility of Barack Obama becoming the president.

Yeah, a lot of people are filing frivolous lawsuits challenging Obama's citizenship. They're all being thrown out because Obama's birth certificate and a 1961 Hawaiian newspaper affirm that Obama was born in Honolulu.

there is also a case at the Supreme Court and on December 5th the justices will be in conference about Barack Obamma's eligbility.

No, the Supreme Court won't be in conference about Obama's eligibility on Dec. 5. Rather, at this time Philip Berg's petition for a writ of certiorari is still pending before the Supreme Court. He has asked them to hear his appeal, but they haven't accepted his appeal, nor can it reasonably be expected that they will accept it. Even if they did, they would not consider the question of Obama's eligibility, but only the question of Berg's standing to file his suit, and if they overturned the lower court's dismissal, then the case would be remanded to that lower court for consideration of the allegations that Berg has brought forward.

Don't hold your breath waiting for the Supreme Court to accept Berg's appeal. The Supreme Court rarely accepts appeals, especially when it is of cases that were dismissed by lower courts as frivolous, as Berg's was.