"Blessed are the Merciful for they shall obtain Mercy" Mt 5:7
"I have not come to call the virtuous , but sinners to repentance" Lk 5:32
We are today shunning the words of Isaiah 10:5 who anticipated the impact of losing God's compassion: "Assyria the rod of the Lord's anger and staff of His indignation for the Hebrews" in their day.
We now scorn and ignore this fundamental truth: that war and the elements of nature may be used by God to chastise us to repentance and to pay for the sins of the world or are a direct consequence of our evil, and abandonment by God to our own devices. Irrespective we will all suffer in our different ways.
Who forms God's rod and staff today? Will we not heed this Lent the cry of Our Lady of Fatima or Jonah to repent and maybe God will show us His mercy as he wants to do? Or will we force Him to leave us to our own devices rather than chastise us?
If we don't think that in World War I we were left to our own devices, then why the 4 years madness of mass killing, breakthroughs that could never be followed through, stalemate after stalemate and the gross stupidity of leaders on both sides? Yet in this hell God administered His mercy to individuals and groups.
To drive this point home Piers Brendon's book "The Dark Valley, a panorama of the 1930s" includes chapters on the roots of Fascism, the bane of capitalism, depression, decadence of France, slump in Britain, Japan's imperialism, Stalin's revolution , Mussolini's Abyssinian adventure and the Spanish Civil War. In it Beatrice Webb warned us then: "The USA with its cancerous growth of crime and uncounted but destitute unemployed, Germany hanging on the precipice of nationalist dictatorship, Italy boasting of military preparedness, France in dread of a new combination of Italy, Germany and Austria against her, Spain on the brink of a revolution, Balkan states snarling at each other, the Far East in a state of anarchic ferment, the African continent uncertain whether its paramount interest and cultural power will be black or white, South American states forcibly replacing pseudo-democracies by military dictatorship and finally the Russian revolution that would shake the world."
The stage and plots remain the same, only the names have been changed, and should the actors be allowed to come on and begin, we will have only ourselves to blame. A future World War would result in indescribable horrors.
Have we really learned to repent and mend our ways? Far from it, quite the opposite, with God's Church emptying, schisms everywhere, His forgiving hand rejected by those who believe that they have no sins to repent and accordingly we bring the global consequences of global sinning onto ourselves.
McKenzie writes (the itallicised words in brackets introduce modernists/ post-modernists): "It should not be difficult for us to empathise with the Hebrews and reiterate, as they did: 'It is not the Lord (who does not exist), it is not and cannot be (non-existing) He. It is somebody else who brings this evil upon us, but not the Lord (who does not exist), who we worship (or don't) and serve (or don't). It is not the bitter fruits of our evil deeds (global immorality, violence, corruption and lies) that we taste, not the breath of His (non-existing) anger that we sense: a loving (non-existing) Lord could never do this!' "
It must be a breakdown in diplomacy, a failure of strategy, a collapse of the defence forces, climate change, natural disasters, the Russians, Chinese, Americans and so on. If the wicked and godless afflict us the "righteous" or sinless, it cannot be the paralysing stroke of His (non-existing) hand, which Isaiah saw then raised against His people.
We are facing this situation today. "National guilt is a terrifying idea and its terror is magnified because it is accompanied by national, today global, blindness", permitted by God. We often " learn wisdom from defeat but to see that defeat would be justified before it comes is rare indeed", impossible for those who arrogantly
believe that God either does not exist, is powerless, or does not interfere in world events. Let us use this Lent wisely to be merciful to all so that God will be merciful to us and heed the call by Our Lady of Fatima to repent, repent and repent now.
"The Dark Valley, a panorama of the 1930s", Piers Brendon, Jonathan Cape, London 2000
"The Two Edged Sword, an interpretation of the Old Testament", John L McKenzie SJ, Geoffrey Chapman, London 1959
"A Catechism of Christian Doctrine", Revised 1985, Catholic Truth Society.
"The Preaching of the Beatitudes", Henry James Coleridge SJ, Burns & Oates, London 1876