Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

21 April 2011

Notes on a Scandal III (Reflections on Holy Week)

From the Letter to the Hebrews, excerpts of which grace the First Readings of the Office of Readings this week:

"Strive for peace with all men, and for that holiness without which no one can see the Lord. See to it that no man falls away from the grace of God; that no bitter root springs up through which many may become defiled; that there be among you no fornicator or godless person like Esau, who sold his birthright for a meal. You know that afterward he wanted to inherit his father’s blessing, but he was rejected because he had no opportunity to alter his choice, even though he sought the blessing with tears." (12:14-17, part of "Spy" Wednesday's First Reading)

Jesus the Blessed Peacemaker desired the peace of holiness for each of His apostles, yet would force it upon none of them.  We consider Judas as the one who "fell away from the grace of God," he of the "bitter root" who, being "resentful and crestfallen," could not lift up his head (Gen 4:6-7) for shame at his inferior offering.  He wasn't the only one who deserted the Master in His Hour of Need; but his desertion was the only final and irreparable one.

Strange, the reference to a "fornicator" alongside the "godless" Esau, whose ill-gotten gain foreshadows the Prophet's line: "Why spend your money for what is not bread, your wages for what fails to satisfy?  Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare" (Isa 55:2).  It is the question asked too late by the fornicator, or the idolater of whatever stripe: "Was it really worth it?"  It is the recognition that never comes too late: Obedience to the Lord is far more satisfying than my previous vain pursuits.

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