Near is the Day of the Lord!

Joel 1, 13-15, 2, 1-2 + Luke 11, 15-26

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Chronologically, Joel comes late in the succession of prophets sent to Israel and Judah, whose writings date from the 8th century BC. Joel writes in about the year 400 BC, 346 years after Isaiah saw his vision the Lord sitting on a lofty throne, "the year that King Uzziah died," perhaps a bit more than a half century after Nehemiah and the re-evangelization of the people of Jerusalem. These four centuries span a lot of history -- invasion, collapse, destruction, exile, return, restoration.

Joel writes to the people of Judah who faced an ecological catastrophe, a plague of locusts.This was not something that they had much control over. They had no defenses. As people today live paycheck to paycheck, ancient Judah lived harvest to harvest. One crop failure meant starvation.

Joel summons the people to fasting and prayer, the convocation of a solemn assembly. Grave pictures are painted of a coming Day of the Lord. From their metanoia comes the deliverance for which they pray.

In today's gospel, the enemies of the Lord Jesus Christ continue their attempts to silence the message by killing the Messenger. They preach lies, and attempt to confuse the situation, making unreasonable demands. Jesus turns their arguments back on their heads, and calls all people to uncompromising discipleship, where the rubber hits the road, so to speak.

The journeys of justice and peace are continually under challenge and even attack by "Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls." This is part of the reason why spiritual awareness is so important. There are powers and structures in our lives every day, and it is important to be able to discern the choices they set before us. The wicked may be redeemed and reconciled, and this is the beginning of the redemption of the structures and powers which challenge the fullness of the Reign of God which is in the here and now.

The Day of the Lord is very near, so near that in fact we are already in it, the One sent to bring good news to the poor is in our midst, spiritually and physically present to us. The judgment of the wicked proceeds apace, it is not always evident, but is forever certain: sowing in furrows of injustice yields a bitter harvest. So we live today in the midst of that Judgment and that Day, which seems to me to say something about the tumult on the evening news each day. This has gone on for a very long time, so long that we are becoming spiritually and mentally shell-shocked. We don't always recognize the steady climb in the intensity and extent of the violence and injustice in the world -- or the corresponding overflowing of Grace, Mercy, Beauty, and Goodness. The wicked may rage, but the Spirit brings peace. And when all is said and done, as paper beats rock and rock beats scissors, Grace, Mercy, Beauty and Goodness will trump Violence, Oppression, Injustice, and Exploitation. Note: I confess that I read the Book all the way to the end, and this is the way it turns out; sorry if I'm giving away the big ending, but I thought that with everything going on these days, it was news worth repeating.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.

Thoughts on orthopraxis: If we are living today in the Day of the Lord, is there any evidence of this in our lives? Given the disasters that today's world faces, how do we heed Joel's call to repent, reconcile, and rejoice in the Covenant which God has made with us?

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