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Embers From the Divine Furnace

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“We stand before a burning bush whenever other human beings share with us something of their relationship with God or something of the movements of their hearts. In such moments may we always realize that we stand on holy ground.” ~ Margaret Silf

On the heels of our short three day jaunt through the Book of Amos, we now embark on a couple-some day journey through the Book of Isaiah, focusing today on the beginning of Chapter 6 (1-8). In what is presumably a vision, Isaiah finds himself in the presence of the Lord, who is perched high atop a lofty throne clad in dazzling white garments. Isaiah’s feelings of inadequacy are quickly made manifest. “Woe is me, I am doomed!” he declares, going on to elaborate as to how he came to this grim conclusion. “For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Those of you familiar with this story know that a seraphim swiftly flew to Isaiah’s side, holding a fiery ember that he had taken with tongs from the altar. Upon touching Isaiah’s mouth with it, he declared “See, now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.” Emboldened and in awe of what has transpired, Isaiah is now prepared to run through the brick wall for our Lord, who asked aloud “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” Isaiah resounds “Here I am, send me!”

This commissioning of Isaiah, perhaps the most eloquent of all the Prophets, dovetails nicely with today’s Gospel (Matthew 10:24-33) wherein we are told that “Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.” We must always remember bee and live our lives with this stark reality in mind. One day the veil will be lifted and all will be made known. Our lives must be rooted in purity and honesty so that we can stand on our merits, unafraid and unashamed, on the day of Final Judgment.

These graces can be found in the Confessional, which is precisely where I went looking for them this morning after Mass. Frequent confession not only allows one to be unburdened from the sin that weighs us down, it opens our hearts to the mercy and grace that God wishes to lavish upon each of us. It motivates us to strive for the holiness we need to follow in the steps of Isaiah, exhorting the Lord to “send us” into the world as ambassadors for His salvific message of repentance and transformation.

“What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops,” Jesus goes on to say. These words speak to the communal aspect of our faith. God so often speaks to us in the whispers, not the whirlwinds. The Prophet Elijah would certainly attest to that if he were with us today (1 Kings 19:11-13). We must share these encounters and experiences, many of them experienced in the quiet of Eucharistic Adoration.

“When you look at the crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you then,” Saint Teresa of Calcutta would often say, going on to conclude that “When you look at the Sacred Host, you understand how much Jesus loves you now.” Saint Therese of Lisieux said “Heaven for me is hidden in a little Host where Jesus, my Spouse, is veiled for love. I go to that Divine Furnace to draw out life, and there my Sweet Savior listens to me night and day.” This furnace, the same furnace from which the ember was drawn to purify and sanctify Isaiah, awaits all those with the wisdom to run to it.

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Let us all join our Psalmist today in proclaiming that the Lord’s decrees are indeed worthy of our trust. “Your throne stands firm from of old; from everlasting you are. Holiness befits your house, O Lord, for length of days.”

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