“Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending” – a Meditation (2)

Original hymn by Charles Wesley.

Now redemption, long expected,
See in solemn pomp appear;
All His saints, by man rejected,
Now shall meet Him in the air:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
See the day of God appear!

Redemption in the sense that this verse employs refers to the resurrection of the dead and transformation of the living saints at Christ’s coming. They will receive bodies like Christ’s own resurrection body; these will be glorious, not subject to decay and capable of things our earthly bodies cannot do of themselves. Christ comes with a triumphal procession worthy of His standing as God, Saviour, and King. He possesses His own objective glory, which can overawe the impenitent, but those who love Him render glory to Him of their own volition as a sign of their recognition of who He is and what He has done. The followers of Christ in this age are largely the “little people” of this world, twice rejected: rejected because they are not glorious by the world’s standards, rejected because they have dared to swear allegiance to Christ in defiance of the Devil, the Dark Powers, and human sin. Those who love Him will be gathered by His angels to greet Him in the air, just as conquerors were greeted by those loyal to them outside the city they were about to enter. For those who love Christ, who love righteousness, His return will be a day of joy.

Answer Thine own bride and Spirit,
Hasten, Lord, the general doom!
The new Heav’n and earth t’inherit,
Take Thy pining exiles home:
All creation, all creation, all creation,
Travails! groans! and bids Thee come!

The Bride is the body of human believers in Christ. This is a development of the prophetic metaphor applied to Israel in the Old Testament, viz. the Wife of YHWH. The idea behind this metaphor is that we are to be completely loyal to our Lord. In other words, we must not have dealings with other spiritual forces by taking part in other religions, be it mixing them with Christianity or leaving Christianity altogether (apostasy). The “adultery” referred to by the prophets was the worship of other gods, such as Baal. Those who love the Lord long for Him to finally take the earth, to renew it, cleansing it of physical, spiritual, and moral evil. It is iniquitous for good people to be forever subject to evil laws and evil rulers. When Christ returns to rule from Jerusalem and inherit the earth, He will do away with such things, that the righteous may dwell on earth in peace and prosperity. Until that day we are exiles, sojourners on this earth, not at home with evil rule and evil culture.

The dear tokens of His passion
Still His dazzling body bears;
Cause of endless exultation
To His ransomed worshippers;
With what rapture, with what rapture, with what rapture
Gaze we on those glorious scars!

We love Christ because He first loved us. Contemplation of Christ’s incarnation, passion, and resurrection, should be at the heart of our relationship with Him. His scars show us His perfect righteousness and His perfect justice. That He eternally bears these wounds is a testament to the eternal and perfect nature of His love for us. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi). The term “rapture” here refers not to our greeting the Lord in the air, previously mentioned in this hymn, but to the joy, the euphoria, the ecstasy we shall have at seeing our Saviour and being struck by His beauty as we catch a glimpse of those scars. He has transformed the ugly into the beautiful; He has turned sinners into saints. Only with God is this possible.

Yea, Amen! let all adore Thee,
High on Thine eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory,
Claim the kingdom for Thine own;
O come quickly! O come quickly! O come quickly!
Everlasting God, come down!

Washington Post editorial writer is back with more ‘Uncle Ted’ McCarrick scandal news — GetReligion

Communio

… A little before 9:30 on Monday evening — likely a little later than is fair to an elderly man, I admit — I knocked on his door. I was dismissed by another person, via a muted conversation through a windowpane, but left a note and a business card. Hearing no word, I returned Tuesday afternoon and found my card still on the windowsill where I had left it. I suspected my efforts to contact the former cardinal might not be getting through, and so resolved to try a little more persistence this time, waiting on his doorstep for roughly an hour, with a letter I had brought.
But it seems my contact information had made it to authorities: After I left, a representative from the Washington archdiocese called my editor to complain about my presence. I was surprised to learn I had caused sincere alarm — I don’t present…

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A Miserable Human Being

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How would you describe a miserable human being in moral and ethical terms? One might think it is a lack of love or empathy for others or to shamelessly use another’s misfortune, sorrow or pain to their own advantage; like a politician exploiting groups of people for their own gain though they are bereft of any true sense of love of neighbor. In the religious realm it might be using faith to twist and cajole others into losing faith, defying gospel teachings and natural and religious moral norms in order to lead them to hell rather than to God. I suppose the damned are looking for as much company as they can get.

But I can’t help but think that the worst form of a diabolical personality are those who pretend to be good, righteous and loving while they are hiding beneath a mask their desire to hunt people down like prey: predators seem to be the worst and those who know them and ignore them are nearly as bad.

This is the situation in the Catholic Church at the moment and I cannot think of anything more miserable than predatory religious figures who are no more than wolves in sheep’s clothing or hirelings who ignore the wolves for money, favors and public acclaim. We are aware now that there are a number of bishops who live this way but it is astonishing to us that our very Pope may be among them as well. 

It might be easy to point a finger at the bishops who have devoured their own sheep and lambs but to imagine that the head of the bishops (the bishop of Rome and the Vicar of Christ Himself) might also be one of them is almost too much to fathom. And should it all turn out as being true in the coming months or years, we will have the poster boy of the most Miserable Human Being on the face of the earth. For if true, he is a diabolical narcissist, an actor par excellence and sadly the most miserable human being of our present era. There is nobody who is higher and who can fall further than the Pope of the Catholic faith and thereby his fall will be greater than scores of others who fall on a daily basis. 

Let us pray that if the allegations are true that he will bow out gracefully and that those other bishops may follow suit. Then just maybe these Miserable Human Beings will be forgotten and the Church may once again regain Her splendor (never actually lost) to the eyes of this fallen world that revels in the scandals of the Church.

Cardinal Cupich said … — GetReligion

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“I’m hurting, I can’t sleep, I’m sick,” the seminarian told Cupich during an Aug. 29 gathering at which the cardinal spoke to about 200 future priests enrolled at the seminary, according to another person who was there and spoke with the Chicago Sun-Times but asked not to be identified.

The seminarian told Cupich he was a young boy during the last scandal, in the early 2000s — amid a renewed wave of child-rape allegations against priests and cover-ups by their bishop bosses — and “thought this was over,” that the bishops had done their jobs.

Cupich thanked the man for speaking up and said he, too, was sick over the situation.

Minutes later, though, the cardinal said something that struck some of the seminarians as “tone-deaf.”

“I feel very much at peace at this moment. I am sleeping OK,” Cupich said, according to the person in attendance, a man studying…

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“Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending” – a Meditation (1)

Original hymn by Charles Wesley.

Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
Once for favored sinners slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending,
Swell the triumph of His train:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
God appears on earth to reign.

Riding on the Clouds was a sign of divinity in Old Testament times. This verse draws on the descriptions of Jesus Christ’s return found in Daniel 7:13, Matthew 24:30, and Revelation 14:14. Christ is God the Son, the Cloud Rider. He will come again in glory, attended by angels, and greeted by His human saints when they have been raised from the dead. When Christ comes again, He will establish His rule on earth at Mount Zion. He will reign with His saints (Revelation 20:6), and the world will know justice. His human saints love Him, because He was slain for them. He willingly died for us to take away our sin and to bring us to God, granting believers an inheritance with Him in His Messianic kingdom.

Every eye shall now behold Him
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at naught and sold Him,
Pierced and nailed Him to the tree,
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
Shall the true Messiah see.

There will be no ambiguity when the true Christ comes. In this present age there are imposters – but imposters can (and should) be doubted. Those who deny He is the true Christ will be in deep denial and without excuse. The unrepentant will mourn because they know their doom is at hand. Repenting Israel will mourn when their eyes are opened to who Christ is and they think upon all those years they have waited to see the Kingdom restored. All are guilty of His crucifixion, Gentile and Jew alike: all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23); Romans crucified Him on the urging of the Sanhedrin.

Every island, sea, and mountain,
Heav’n and earth, shall flee away;
All who hate Him must, confounded,
Hear the trump proclaim the day:
Come to judgment! Come to judgment! Come to judgment!
Come to judgment! Come away!

The world will not be the same when Christ returns. Scarred by wars and the judgment of God, there will be a great need for restoration. It will also be a time of reversals: “for the last shall be first, and the first last” (Luke 13:30). Individuals and nations that were honoured in this age may find themselves humbled, and the humble raised up to God’s council. Imagine a world where work is rewarded according to its true value as measured in the Kingdom, and not by the subjective selfish standards of our fallen nature. Those nations and individuals who resist righteousness will be chastised – but if they repent, they will be restored. No one will escape the justice of the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

John’s Gospel – it’s good for us

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

-John 14:9, ESV

John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus is the Word, the Memra, the second Yahweh figure who was visible to the Israelites during the events of the Old Testament. This Gospel was incredibly important to me when I became a Christian, struggling with the question of who Jesus is. I walked something like the Romans Road to salvation, aware of my sin and my inability to meet the standard of righteousness required by God. The prevailing feeling at that time was fear. “Sinners in the hands of an angry God.”

Luke’s Gospel, which I was studying at the time in school as part of my Religious Studies course, emphasised Jesus as the Son of God. Little was provided to help us understand what that meant. I was also studying Latin and Ancient Greek at the time, so I had the Greco-Roman concepts attached to this phrase, but they seemed inappropriate to the monotheism of Judaism. Luke’s Gospel also impressed upon me the same sense of dread I was feeling in Romans, because it features the preaching of John the Baptist before the Temptation in the Wilderness and the beginning of the Galilean Ministry. John the Baptist struck me as a “fire and brimstone” sort of preacher – scary.

Then I turned to John’s Gospel, and found some of the confusion and fear I was experiencing lifted. John told me that Jesus is God. This answered the deep, searching question within me about who Jesus is. But it went further than that. John’s Gospel told me what God wanted of us in the simplest of terms: to be believe on Jesus Christ whom He has sent. Jesus promised never to turn away anyone who came to Him, and He promised that He would raise up on the last day all those who died believing in Him.

John’s Gospel allowed me to see God in Jesus, just as Paul calls Jesus “the image of the invisible God”. In Jesus I saw a God who cared about righteousness as I had seen in Romans and Luke, but I also saw a God who was compassionate on the sinner, who understood our weaknesses and who loved us nonetheless. I saw a God who was willing to do whatever was necessary – and more – to save us and to show His love to us. In that sense, I saw two glories – the glory of Jesus as Yahweh, the Creator, but also the simple glory of Jesus as Love, as Kindness.

Jesus is the Word of the Father: He is the Father’s message to mankind. If you want to know what God is saying to us, look at Jesus.

Michael, Chaos, and the End

black and gray angel statue decor

Photo by Anastasia Zhenina on Pexels.com

https://theorangemailmanmyblog.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/the-restrainer-of-lawlessness/

At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

-Daniel 12:1-2, ESV

Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him…Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time…Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.

-Revelation 12:6-9, 12; 13:2, NKJV

The Daniel passage above shows that when Michael the Archangel, the angelic prince of Israel, “arises” at the time of the end, the Great Tribulation begins. The passage in Revelation above expands on this, showing that Michael will cast the Devil out of heaven once and for all, and that when he does, the Devil’s wrath against humanity will be great, because he knows that his end is only a short way off. This is a kind of desperation, what one might call a mad panic: the Devil knows that he will only have three and a half years to roam the earth after he is cast down by Michael, and then Christ will appear.

Michael and the angels who have charge over nations act as restraining force against evil in the present age. Governments are instituted by God to prevent the worst excesses of man: they are a force for order, and are used to suppress lawlessness. This is true both domestically and in foreign relations. A domestic law imposing the death penalty for murder acts as a deterrent and also as retributive justice. A nation going to war against the evil government of another nation is an instrument to bring peace and justice to the world: the righteous fight of the Allies against the Axis powers in World War 2 is an example of this.

As we get closer to the end, however, the forces of restraint are weakening. 2 Thessalonians 2 tells us that when the restrain ends, the “apostasy” will begin and the Man of Sin will be revealed. Apostasy means rebellion (stasis means civil war and civil unrest). This may be rebellion in general or people leaving true Christianity or both.

The signs of chaos in our own time should give us pause to consider whether the restraint exercised by Michael and human government is coming to an end. For that short space, the reign of the Beast, there will be unparalleled evil on the earth before the return of Christ. Consider this hard language from the Scriptures:

And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time.

-Daniel 12:1, ESV

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved.

-Matthew 24:21-22, ESV

…since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels…

-2 Thessalonians 1:6-7

We are seeing chaos at the present time in the form of wars, but also intellectually. Great swathes of society have been taken away by, as it were, a flood of demonic deception: relativism, nihilism, existentialism, materialism, political correctness. The laws of our lands have become instruments of evil.

Shall the throne of iniquity, which devises evil by law, have fellowship with You?

-Psalm 94, NKJV

Israel is back in the land, and hatred is rising against her from the House of Islam and the political Left. Now is a time to consider whether 2 Thessalonians 2 is far off.

 

Complete St. Michael the Archangel Prayer

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O glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, be our defense in the terrible warfare which we carry on against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, spirits of evil. Come to the aid of man, whom God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. Fight this day the battle of our Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in heaven. That cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the Name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay, and cast into eternal perdition, souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. That wicked dragon pours out. as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity. These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on Her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck the sheep may be scattered. Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate thee as their protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious powers of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.

V: Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers.

R: The Lion of the Tribe of Juda has conquered the root of David.

V: Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord.

R: As we have hoped in Thee.

V: O Lord hear my prayer.

R: And let my cry come unto Thee.

V: Let us pray. O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy Name, and as suppliants, we implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin, immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all other unclean spirits, who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of our souls. Amen.

He Himself bore our Sicknesses and carried our Pains

A great post by The Orange Mailman.

The Orange Mailman

Matthew 8:14-17  And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in -law lying sick with a fever.  He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.  That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick.  This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:  “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

I have been working through each instance of fulfilled prophecy in the gospel of Matthew.  I am calling this series A Tax Collector’s Guide to Fulfilled Prophecy.  Matthew the Tax Collector was basically regarded as an unlearned outcast by the religious establishment.  However, his desire to follow Jesus has made him one of the most famous scholars of scripture of all time.  He had not been to religious schools…

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