February 27, 2005 Third Sunday of Lent
Reading I (Exodus 17:3-7) Reading II (Romans 5:1-2, 5-8)
Gospel (St. John 4:5-42)
In the first reading today, we hear about the people of Israel when they are out in the desert. They are standing in front of Mount Sinai and they have no water, and because they are thirsting and afraid that they might die in their thirst, they begin to grumble against God. The Lord not only provided the water for them (as, of course, He was going to anyway), but He speaks later on about what happened at Meribah and Massah. He tells us that the people tested Him, though they had seen all of His works. They had seen the plagues, they had seen the sea opened up and the people walk through and the Egyptians killed, they had seen the manna that they had received in the desert, and still they refused to trust in God. So some fifteen hundred years later from that, when King David wrote his psalms, the Holy Spirit inspired him to put into Psalm 95 this particular point, and that is that God says, At Meribah and Massah they tested me and provoked me, although they had seen all of my works. So I swore in my anger, “They shall never enter into my rest.” The Church begins every single day by reciting that psalm. Every priest throughout the world, every religious, any layperson who prays the Breviary, that psalm is on their lips 365 days a year to remind us that we have to trust in God and that we are not to grumble against Him.
Yet if we look into our own hearts, how many times have we grumbled against God. When things do not go the way that we want them to, when something happens that is unpleasant for us, rather than accepting it, or rather being like the saints and rejoicing in it, we grumble, we complain, we get angry with the Lord. Yet we know that these people out in the desert, when they grumbled against God, were punished. They were punished by not entering into the Promised Land and not entering into the rest, the Sabbath rest of eternity, that God has prepared for those who love Him.
Now when we look again at our own selves, we live in such a cushy society that the slightest little problem gets us grumbling against God. I think that we need to be pretty clear with what is going on. The time is upon us when things are going to get very bad externally. We have begun to see some of the things, and they have only just begun. We need to do exactly what Saint Paul reminds us in the second reading, to put into practice our faith – which is purely a gift from God – and faith is going to find its expression, as he tells us, in hope and in charity. We have our hope in Jesus Christ and in the promises that Our Lord has made us. It is there that we need to look because if we look at the world around us, or if we focus on ourselves, we are going to go down and we are going to complain against God.
If we look at the circumstances that we have seen recently, for instance, the tsunami over in Asia, the pagans in the media have tried to use that to undermine people’s faith. “If there is a God,” they said, “how would He possibly allow something like this to happen? Two hundred thousand people dead! Obviously, God must not be a merciful God. There can’t be a God.” Well, to the pagan media, I say simply, “Hang on, because you haven’t seen anything yet!” Things are going to get very bad. If you just think about what is going on, if you want to look at the mercy of God for a moment, ask yourself how many babies we have to kill before God’s mercy is filled. Four thousand a day in America, and we are far from the worst. In Russia right now, the average woman has had between 8 and 10 abortions – the average! One of the priests from Russia was sitting at our dining room table. He told us about a woman who came in who had had 42 abortions, and then she was angry at God because she could not get pregnant! In the Low Countries, 50% of all the babies are aborted. So how many billions of babies have we killed around the world? In China, they are forcing abortions because they allow only one child. In India, now they have begun to do the same. And then we sit back and try to suggest that God is not merciful.
The justice of God is upon us. His mercy has been extended and extended and extended even further. Now it is time for the justice of God, which is the same as His mercy, because this world needs to be purified. In Scripture, one of the sins that cries out to heaven for vengeance is the shedding of innocent blood, and one cannot get any more innocent than a baby. The pagans in the media who want to scream about 200,000 people dying in the lands where they have child prostitution and child pornography beyond any other in the world do not bat an eyelash when it comes to killing babies. We need to recognize the reality of what is happening and then we need to look at what we have to do.
In the Gospel reading today, the Samaritan woman recognizes Who Jesus is, and He acknowledges directly that He is the Messiah. The people of this Samaritan town understand Who He is, and they say to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your testimony, we have heard for ourselves.” The Holy Spirit, Saint Paul said, has been poured forth into our hearts. That is the spring of living water that Jesus speaks of, the grace of God given to each one of us. So we have faith, we have hope, we have charity placed within us. The question is, are we practicing it? Can we say with those Samaritans that we know Who Jesus is? I think we will all say it, but what do we do about it? Do we put our faith into practice? With the things that are coming upon this world, and coming very soon, the only way we are going to make it is to put that faith into practice. Otherwise, what is going to happen is that if we take our eyes off of Jesus we will grumble against God and we will be lost.
What matters – and all that matters – is that we remain in the state of grace, that our hearts, which are harder than the rock at Horeb that Moses struck to get water out of, the hardness of our stony hearts has to break. We have become so immune to the evil around us that we just shrug our shoulders and we do not even care. It is more important to us that we have comfort, that we have entertainment, that Satan’s box in the living room continues to fill our heads with garbage. That is what seems more important to us in America, and even to Catholics in America. That is far more important to us for some odd reason than the Lord Himself. I have told you before and I will tell you again: There is only one way that we are going to survive, not even survive physically, but survive spiritually. It does not matter if you live or die; all that matters is that you are in the state of grace so you can go to heaven.
There is only one way that this is going to happen, and that is if we are deep in prayer – deep in prayer. Not one single person, from the Holy Father in Rome to the newborn baby, will be able to do this on their own. None of us has the strength to be able to survive what is coming. Only by the grace of God will a few survive to begin things all over, to see the new springtime that our Holy Father keeps talking about. Our Lady told us at Akita, which is the last fully approved apparition, approved even by the Vatican, that fire will fall from the sky killing the greater part of humanity and every single person in the state of mortal sin will die and many in the state of grace will die. It will be indiscriminate; priests and the people, it does not matter. What matters is that you are in the state of grace. That will be the culminating point, but there is much that is going to happen before that.
If we are not going to grumble against God like the people in Israel, then we had better have our focus on God that the faith that we profess in Jesus Christ, the hope that we proclaim in the promises of Christ for eternal life, and the charity of God, the love of God poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which has been given to us so that it will well up to eternal life, need to be put into practice. Again, I tell you: If you are not spending time in prayer, you will not make it. I do not know how I can be more clear. Jesus is right here in the Blessed Sacrament 24 hours a day, and Catholics run the other direction. We watch Satan’s box instead of the Lord’s box. “The tabernacle,” as Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “is my TV set. It is that box that I like to sit and watch.” What about us? To whom do we listen? To the voice of the devil filling our heads with his lies? or to the voice of God? The choice is ours. The Holy Spirit has been given to each and every one of us, poured forth into our hearts; all we have to do is listen to Him, to follow Him. There are two spirits: the Holy Spirit and the unholy spirit. The choice is very clear. One likes to make everything sound fun and lead us to condemnation for eternity. The other leads us to the Cross and eternal life. The choice is ours.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording with minimal editing.