Friday, March 9 (O.S.,February 24), 2018: Friday of the Third Week of Lent; The First (IV) and the Second Discovery of the Head of St. John the Forerunner Venerable Erasmus of the Kiev Caves († c. 1160); Finding of the Relics of the Holy Right-believing Prince Romanus of Uglich.
In Isaiah God calls His People to battle; His “sanctified ones,” His “mighty one,” and those “who rejoice in My exaltation,” are to make war against “the wicked for their iniquity” and “the arrogance of the proud.”
When this war comes it will be terrible. Heaven itself will join in and the battle will be “cruel” replete with “both wrath and fierce anger.” So great will be the devastation that creation itself will be affected. “The sun will be darkened …, and the moon will not cause its light to shine.”
It is hard to square this frightening prophecy with the promise made to Noah that God will never “again destroy every living thing.” It is on the basis of this promise that Noah and his sons are told to take up once again Adam’s failed vocation to be “Be fruitful and multiply and to “fill the earth.”
The very next line, however, gives us a hint as to why the promise needs the prophecy and how the two work together.
Before the Fall peace existed between Adam and the beasts of the field. Now “every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea” fear us. Where once we were co-creators, now we strive to subjugate not only animals but each other.
Even in this newly restored world, murder remains a possibility. Humanity, and now animals as well, are capable of murder. And whether man or beast, if you kill “the image of God” your “blood shall be shed.”
This is the awful standard that must now be in place so that we can “be fruitful and multiply.” Our vocation to create wealth, to “bring forth abundantly in the earth” requires that we not only remain on guard against the violence in the human heart but that we punish its expression.
God’s prophecy to Isaiah, guards His promise to Noah.
This is why Solomon in today’s reading from Proverbs is so direct in his praise of wisdom and so seemingly cruel his condemnation of sin. “The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but the perverse tongue will be cut out.”
Just as a “dishonest scale” can undermine the trust between buyer and seller, the evil imaginations of the human heart–of my heart–have the potential to tear apart the human community. “He who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbor,” and it is this that is the root of all human violence. Even if I never lift my hand against him, in my heart I kill my neighbor I hold him in contempt.
It is this contempt, this willingness in me, to kill the image of God in you or in myself, that God tells us to fight against; it is this contempt that God in Jesus Christ overcome by His death on the Cross.