The Jews were baptized in the same cloud and sea; they ate the same
spiritual meat; they drank the same spiritual drink. . .but, with most of
them, God was not well-pleased. For us Catholics, the lesson is
clear--though Baptism and the Mass are great gifts, they are useless unless
we show forth a life worthy of these graces. The Jews were given
countless precious gifts, but they proved themselves unworthy of them.
God loved them and honoured them; but they did not show forth the fruits of
love. That is why God destroyed them by a sweeping destruction and
punished them with a double vengeance (they were punished and they were
denied what was promised them.)
The lesson for us is clear. . .those who
are unworthy shall be punished. And how do we become worthy? "We
should not lust after evil things, for all evil things arise from evil
lusting." "Do not be idolaters." And who are the idolaters?
Watch the answer: ". . .those who sat down to eat and to drink and
rose up to play." Gluttony makes people idolaters. Lust and
idolatry are caused by gluttony and luxury. "Nether let us commit
fornication." Neither let us tempt Christ."
"Do not murmur." For what is
required of you is not only to suffer, but to suffer nobly and with all
gladness. You must suffer this way, for punishment will attend men who take
calamities with a bad grace. Thus, the apostles rejoiced when beaten,
and Paul glorified in his suffering.
"Now these things happened unto them by
way of example and they were written for our admonition upon whom the end of
the ages are come." That we will suffer is certain; that our
sufferings and punishments will be severe in accordance with our numerous
blessings is also evident. And the thought of the END TIMES must give
us fear because the punishment is eternal while the punishment NOW is
"Therefore, let him that thinketh he
stands, because he has studied much, take heed lest he falls." The
Jews fell because they thought they were standing; others fell just because
they murmured. St. Paul feared; all the more must we fear since most
of us are not even standing, for we are sinners.
Let us all rise, though late. . .no
matter if the wound is severe; for our Physician is good. Do good;
avoid being angry with your neighbours so your sins will be forgiven.
Give alms so that the Father will remit your sins; pray earnestly that you
may be forgiven. If you accuse yourself of your own sins, you will be
released; if you are sorrowful because of your sinful state, this will heal
you. And if you nobly suffer evil, you will be comforted. If you take
pity on widows, yours sins shall be washed away.
For in the case of the servant who owed
10,000 talents, God was content that he fall down on his knees; for the
Prodigal son who squandered his father's inheritance, his return was
sufficient. For the lost sheep, just the willingness to be carried on
St. John Chrysostom, On the Gospels