Don’t Look Back

YOUR HOST IS ATTEMPTING To navigate between two parishes, one Latin and one Byzantine, with the latter using the Julian Calendar no less. (Most Byzantine Catholic places, in the US at least, use the Gregorian Calendar.) This year’s Gregorian and Julian Easters are one week apart. Next year they are five weeks apart! This year was kind of easy: when we reached Saturday evening in my breviary, I flipped back to the beginning of week Five of Lent. I’ll get to Palm Sunday this week and get to Holy Week next week. Then I’ll drop back into sync with the West after the week-long Sunday of the Easter Octave. ANYWAY… all this as prelude to the fact that this morning I read (again) the passage for Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent. It ends with St Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews 3:19. So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. They, here, is the People of Israel, and entering in is the Promised Land.

Backstory: when the people first got to the Promised Land, they sent 12 spies into the land to see what manner of land it was, what people were there, and what their prospects were. Two of the spies came back and said, “Wow. God is about to deliver on his promises, big time!” The other ten, however, were naysayers who said there were giants in the land and we (the people of Israel) were doomed if we went ahead. The vast majority of the people believed the 10, and wept for fear. God was angry and said they would all die rather than enter into his promised land.

Today, instead of hearing Hebrews 3:19 as a punishment from God, I heard it as it was written: their own unbelief kept them from entering the land. Even if there were giants there, even if the land was crawling with scorpions and aliens with laser guns… if the people had trusted God and walked in, everything would have been as he said. But their own lack of faith prevented them from taking God at his word. Their own fear became their own death. Their own failure became the judgment against them. It would not have mattered if God had tried to coax them forward. They were terrified.

So they did not enter into his rest.

Perfect love drives out all fear.

Mary becomes the mother of God by saying yes and never turning back. Lot’s wife failed because she looked back. Judas realized his mistake, threw the money back at the priests, but chickened out and hung himself. Peter realized his mistake and repented, and returned to the Lord. (Hear the Homily from Fr Michael Hurley, OP. Open your heart to the Lord and allow him to draw you close.)

Anyone who puts their hand to the plough, says Our Lord, but then looks back is not worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Don’t look back.

Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

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