I have been going to bed each night listening to Fr. Jim Nisbet’s teachings on the Book of Revelations. On the last CD I was listening to, Fr. Jim had been expanding on the devastating results of the seven plagues. Learning through listening is good, but key verses are missed, especially when one is drifting in and out of sleep. Hence, while I was reading the 9th chapter of the Book of Revelations, I was both appalled and horrified when I read, “The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.” Revelations 9:20-21. An earlier verse just mentioned that a third of mankind had been wiped out by the last plague and yet the survivors won’t repent from their old ways?!? My heart and mind could not embrace what was written and so I frantically asked our Father, “What is wrong with mankind? Why don’t they see?!?”
Our Father has since reminded me that what St. John had written in Revelations was based on a vision he had seen. And yet, I wonder if what he wrote holds true today. The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami took 230,000 lives from 14 countries. The world has since experienced one devastating catastrophe after another, causing some to shake and tremble and yet, I wonder if that was enough to cause people to repent and turn to God. I would imagine that those who had lost family and friends were impacted, but what about the rest of the world? Have we shrugged and readily dismissed the events because we were not affected? Lord, have mercy on us.
“And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,
‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.’ Matthew 13:10-17
Since coming across this verse many years ago, our Father and I have been wrestling about it. I have been begging and begging Him to open the spiritual eyes, ears and hearts of those who do not know Him so that they would realize how much they need Him in their lives. I have pleaded with Him to let them “taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” Psalm 34:8
A brief chat with newly ordained Fr. Paul Goo helped me begin to understand what was going on. When I asked “Why?”, he halted only for a moment and then he replied, “Each individual still has their free will.” FREE WILL! Yes, God has given each of us free will, but isn’t that what caused Adam and Eve to fall to begin with? Fr. Paul reminded me that God didn’t want us to be robots; He doesn’t want to force Himself on us, but He desires us to freely choose to love Him.
Perhaps part of the answer lies in the phrase “For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.” This reminds me of the parable of the master and the talents. The first two servants multiplied what was given to them but the third one buried the single talent he was given. (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-28) As I ponder, I begin to understand. Perhaps many are like the third servant. Perhaps they do not realize and recognize the treasure that is given to them and so they bury it (keep it out of their conscious thoughts) until they are ready to deal with it. I would suppose that periodically, they would dig up what was given, but because their eyes are still not open, they continue to fail to see and so they bury it again. (It should be interesting to note that although the treasure is buried, it never disappears or deteriorates. That in itself speaks volumes that God’s truth never fades away.)
Perhaps the first two servants had a personal encounter with the Master (Jesus) and their time together with Him had revealed the truths of the talents that were to be given to them. So as they received these gifts (Gifts of the Holy Spirit) they shared it with others, bearing fruits (bringing more into God’s kingdom) and giving glory to God.
In one of his other teachings, Fr. Jim had mentioned that wisdom is not a gift God gives. Instead, we gain wisdom as we draw close to Him. The closer we get, the more wisdom we have, but when our relationship wanes, so does wisdom. To me, wisdom is similar to seeing with our spiritual eyes. As we draw closer to our Lord, the more we begin to see with His eyes.
In 1 Corinthians 1:18, 23, St. Paul writes, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” and “we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” For those who have not experienced and accepted the redemptive love of Jesus, the message of the cross is foolish and insignificant, while it is a stumbling block to others. Those who do not know God see with the world’s wisdom.
“ For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 1 Corinthians 1:19-21
I then asked our Father, what about “Otherwise they would see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return, And I would heal them.”? Doesn’t Your word say, “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9 To that I sensed our Father reply, “Yes my child, you know My heart. I want all to come to repentance and that is the reason why I have shut their eyes and ears. At the moment, all they want from me is for their own gain. They want their troubles to be over and they want their aches and pain to dissipate. That is all they want from me. Their hearts are not ready; they still lack humility and they are not humble enough to acknowledge that they have sinned. When the time is right, I will open their eyes and ears. I am God, remember?
Father God, forgive us. We admit that we are all sinners and we need the continuous redemptive love of Jesus. Thank You, that when we stumble, we can run to You and ask for forgiveness and through Your loving mercy, you cleanse us once again, as white as snow.
Lord, there are so many out there who don’t know You. They do not understand what it means when one catastrophe after another happens. They do not understand because they don’t know You nor Your word. But Lord, how will they know unless we become the light of Your world? How will they know if we, Your children, do not tell them? Father, when we were baptized, our Baptismal candle was lit from the Easter Candle. Jesus is the light You sent down to Earth to bring forth light into this dark world. The lighting of our Baptismal candle symbolizes that we have caught the spark of Jesus. When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai after he encountered You, His face glowed. Father, when we encounter You each day, let our faces light up too. Lord, give us the grace, vigilance, endurance and strength to share what You have done in our lives so that one day, when the time is right, those who still don’t know You will truly see and hear You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.
p.s. – May the lyrics of this song encourage all to pass along the love of God to others…”Pass it on” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tadZ8nCLBsI