Pharaoh and his army thrown into the sea. Painting by American artist Frederick Arthur Bridgman (1847-1928)

One of the most boring things on earth is sin. Boiled down to its own essence sin is only a systematic opposition to what is good. Of course, no one can do anything with that. A sin is committed and then the clock starts ticking as the inevitable consequences approach. That is the end of it, crime and punishment. Of course, there is the eternal repetition of the sufferings of the damned: flames that can’t be quenched, the insatiable maggots that never die, and the dreadful sameness of Gehenna’s landscape. Sin is, like garbage, useless. Gehenna was a garbage dump used to signify Hell.

What is truly exciting is sanctity, holiness exercised under duress. It’s easy to be a saint in Heaven (I think) what is truly heroic is to be holy in this suburb of Hades we call modernity, the latest version of that place “the martyrs call the world.” A stumbling block (in Spanish the figure of a rock is used, ‘piedra de tropiezo’) is there to make the saint trip and fall. By definition, one is a saint when humbling oneself to nothing before God, when one’s own will is completely surrendered to the will of God. It is hard to trip while prostrating. But here on earth we got to walk that lonesome stretch and there are many around us willing to set a stumbling block in our path.

“If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. ‘For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

See how the stumbling tool in this parable of Jesus moves from the path of the saint to the neck of the tempter. That Pharaoh of old was not trying to be a saint but the opposite. His will was perfectly opposed to God’s. The words of Mary to the Angel of the Annunciation “let it be done unto me according to your word” were not even in the vocabulary of Egypt’s ruler.

That old Pharaoh was a big fool. Anyone who sees the hand of God clearly acting before his eyes and yet refuses to submit to the Creator … has to have a screw loose. History presents us with one of those every now and then. Sin is boring and so is the idea of enslaving God’s children and conquer the world (big yawn.) In the end, God’s children went to live a great adventure in the Promised Land but Pharaoh ended his days feeding the fish in the depths of the Red Sea.

At the end of this awful 2020 we are contemplating the emergence of yet another contender for king of the world. His minions are cajoling and cheating their way up to the halls of power. If I am not mistaken, they will get there if not this year, sometime in the near future. In the same manner of Pharaoh, they will stand between the people of God and their destiny. Who wants to guess how successful they’ll be? To get the picture one could read Exodus 14 one more time. Or we can revisit the prophecies of Our Blessed Mother in La Salette. She paints a terrifying picture of the end of the age as the Lord comes to the aid of His people:

“With the first lightning blow of His sword, the mountains and all nature will tremble with dread, because the disorders and crimes of men are piercing the vault of the heavens. Paris will be burned and Marseilles swallowed up; a number of large cities will be shattered and swallowed by earthquakes; all will seem lost; only murders will be seen, the clash of arms and blasphemies heard. The righteous will suffer greatly; their prayers, their penances and their tears will rise to heaven and all God’s people will ask pardon and mercy and will ask my help and intercession. Then Jesus Christ, by an act of His justice and His great mercy toward the righteous, will command His angels to put all His enemies to death. At one blow the persecutors of the Church of Jesus Christ and all men given to sin will perish, and the earth will become like a desert.” (Traditional Catholic Priest)

That is the end of the sinful adventure of humans building a society without God. It is scary enough but then there is a picture of the renovatio mundi when the power of God, having disposed of all the wicked, rebuilds the human race and truly executes the great reset of the history of man:

“Then there will be peace, the reconciliation of God with men; Jesus Christ will be served, adored and glorified; charity will flourish everywhere. The new kings will be the right arm of Holy Church, which will be strong, humble, pious, poor, zealous and imitative of the virtues of Jesus Christ. The Gospel will be preached everywhere, and men will make great strides in the faith, because there will be unity among Jesus Christ’s workers and men will live in the fear of God.” (Traditional Catholic Priest)

We have been warned. This is not our first rodeo. Stay still and see how God purifies the world.