Friday of the Fourth Week of Advent
December 23, 2022
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Malachi preaches the news of God’s Coming with dramatic authority! He tells us that the Lord is sending a messenger, somewhat in the mode of John the Baptist, to prepare the Lord’s way.
Thus says the Lord GOD:Malachi 3:1-4
Lo, I am sending my messenger
to prepare the way before me;
And suddenly there will come to the temple
the LORD whom you seek,
And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.
Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
But who will endure the day of his coming?
And who can stand when he appears?
The passage is so dramatic that it inspired Handel to include it in his magnificent “Messiah”. Handel captures Malachi’s ominous tone, asking the key question: Who shall abide the day of his coming?
These are words of purification and judgement, with tiny tinges of fire and brimstone! Indeed the Lord’s coming is often stunningly fast and awesome. Just last week, our dear Sister Rosemary Herron passed away suddenly and unexpectedly while enjoying a holiday evening. Her death left all who knew her in a state of utter shock and heartbreak.
As we read Malachi today, we might wonder, “Was she ready?” Could she “withstand the Day of His Coming”? What was it like to have her world spun from earth to heaven in the matter of a few moments?
The second part of our reading gives us an answer.
Lo, I will send youMalachi 3:23-24
Elijah, the prophet,
Before the day of the LORD comes,
the great and terrible day,
To turn the hearts of the parents to their children,
and the hearts of the children to their parents,
Lest I come and strike
the land with doom.
If our hearts have been turned toward one another in this world, and if our time on earth has been spent in so turning others, then the Lord’s coming is not a “terrible day”. As Malachi alludes, our lives refine us like gold or silver. At the Lord’s coming, these precious elements will be tested.
- Did we love inclusively?
- Did we turn others toward love?
- Did we try to turn the selfish worldly tide toward love?
All who knew Sister Rosemary know that she was pure gold, already refined by her lifelong choice to be Mercy in the world. That’s what makes her sudden passing so very difficult to cope with. But for Rosemary, that Divine Coming must have been a glorious surprise when she no doubt heard the words of Matthew’s Gospel:
Then the King will say to those on his right,Matthew 25:34-36
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance,
the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me.
Perhaps all of you kind readers would offer a prayer of consolation today for our Sister Rosemary’s family and friends, for her beloved school community at Mercy Career and Technical High School, for her religious community – the Sisters of Mercy, and for the many people she influenced throughout her very generous life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church;
come and save your beloved, whom you formed from the dust!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Poetry: Good-bye Poem – Meg Bowman
Life is but weak if we waste it in weeping:
So, she has left you, she would soon or late.
Death from our lives takes all in her keeping,
Nothing we do can our sorrow abate.
Love, be it ever so deep and entire,
Asks that we strive for the end that she sought:
Catch the tossed torch! Take up the fire!
Light up our world, and teach as she taught.
Music: We Miss You by Eternity