Friday in the Twenty-Sixth Week of Ordinary Time
The preaching of Jesus is not all good news. Sometimes it’s bad news as when he said, “Woe to you, Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum. … You will go down to the netherworld!” In St. Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, four beatitudes are followed by four woes: “Woe to you who are rich, who are filled, who laugh, of whom people speak well, …. You will grieve and weep.” In St. Matthew the eight beatitudes in Jesus’ first sermon are matched by eight woes in his last sermon: “Woe to you who cleanse the outside of the cup but not the inside. … How can you flee the judgment of Gehenna?” In St. John’s Book of Revelation a loud voice in the heavens proclaims a triple woe, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth … for the devil has come down to you in great fury for he knows he has but a short time.”
We need the good news precisely because of the bad news that there really is an everlasting woe of hell, a lake of fire that lasts forever and ever. The prophet Isaiah writes, “Who among us can live with the devouring fire? Who among us can live with everlasting flames?” (Is 33:14). We can’t see what lies beyond death, but Jesus can, and he tells us the truth, the good and the bad, so that we may repent. He came to save us not only from hell but even from purgatory because of his great mercy on all who believe and love and hope in him.
Today, the feast of St. Bruno the Carthusian, it is encouraging to remember the words of Pope Pius XI about the contemplative way of life: He writes, “… those who assiduously fulfill the duty of prayer and penance contribute much more to the increase of the Church and the welfare of mankind than those who labor in tilling the Master’s field”.1 Why else would so many people ask us to pray for them?
- Pope Pius XI, Umbratilem # 12, July 8, 1924