Fr. David's Lent Reflections Day 10
Now we come to the tenth day of our Lenten journey, God bless you as you travel the path to the Cross and to our Lord’s resurrection. Our reading from scripture is Isaiah 5:16-25.
16 But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and the holy God shall be glorified in righteousness. 17 And they that were spoiled shall be fed as bulls, and lambs shall feed on the waste places of them that are taken away.
18 Woe to them that draw sins to them as with a long rope, and iniquities as with a thong of the heifer's yoke: 19 who say, Let him speedily hasten what he will do, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel come, that we may know it. 20 Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil; who make darkness light, and light darkness; who make bitter sweet, and sweet bitter. 21 Woe to them that are wise in their own conceit, and knowing in their own sight. 22 Woe to the strong ones of you that drink wine, and the mighty ones that mingle strong drink: 23 who justify the ungodly for rewards, and take away the righteousness of the righteous.
24 Therefore as stubble shall be burnt by a coal of fire, and shall be consumed by a violent flame, their root shall be as chaff, and their flower shall go up as dust: for they rejected the law of the Lord of hosts, and insulted the word of the Holy One of Israel. 25 Therefore the Lord of hosts was greatly angered against his people, and he reached forth his hand upon them, and smote them: and the mountains were troubled, and their carcasses were as dung in the midst of the way: yet for all this his anger has not been turned away, but his hand is yet raised.
In the image the prophet shows us at the beginning of this reading, the people want to sin so much that they seem to capture sin and draw it toward them - in modern terms think of someone fishing and reeling in a big fish. They seek after sin, and when they find it they make it their own and strive to pull it toward themselves, excited and happy like a man who has hooked a good catch. But aren’t they aware of what they’re doing? Don’t they know that they are slapping the face of God and forsaking His ways? Yes, they do. As Isaiah says: “(they) say, Let him speedily hasten what he will do, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel come, that we may know it.” He speaks about people who say that if God wanted to punish them for their abominations, then let Him do it. As it was, they were committing the most terrible sins, and nothing seemed to happen to them, so they continued, and even made their sins worse.
This reminds me of a passage from Ecclesiastes 8:11 that says: “Because there is no contradiction made on the part of those who do evil quickly, therefore the heart of the children of men is fully determined in them to do evil.” Is this the way we are, brothers and sisters? Do we follow after sin and catch it, and draw it toward ourselves because we don’t see any reason not to? We don’t feel consequences, and so we don’t care? Let us use this holy season of Lent to turn our backs on sin, to confess it and fight to keep it far away, not to draw it near. Today’s reading from Isaiah says it over and over again: woe to them! Woe to the conceited and the drunkards! Woe to those who forget God.
Isaiah reminds us, as he did yesterday, to learn from the mistakes of his people. Thanks to God for this holy season of preparation which gives us pause to consider our need for repentance.