Chapter One: Grace and Devotion to Mary
Chapter Two: Mary, Holy Objects and God
Chapter Three: Primary Teachings - Mary the Virgin
Chapter Four: Mary and Jesus
Chapter Five: Deeper Teachings -
Chapter Six: Teachings Not Yet Declared Dogmas -
Jesus and Mary
A Mediator with our Mediator
Chapter Seven: Final Thoughts and Reflections
of the Holy Spirit
of Jesus Made Present
and Church Unity
Consecration to Mary Individual and
Litany of Mary's Faith Journey
© Copyright, J. Roy MacIntyre 2009
The Tribulation - God's Mercy
Since I am discussing the mercy of God and because I see some disasters coming on the Earth as a reflection of that mercy of God I feel it appropriate to make a point here about these predicted disasters. But first let me comment about the teaching that Jesus will remove Christians from the world before or during the final tribulation. Jesus said, "In the world you will have tribulation, but fear not I have overcome the world (Jn 16:33)." In other words Jesus is advising us to prepare for tribulation, not to avoid it. This is the lot of the Christian Church and what we as Christians can expect.
Jesus, Himself suffered in His life on earth. Those who love Him will be ready or even want to suffer in imitation of Him out of love. If God were to remove us off the face of the earth to spare us from tribulation it would be an admission to the impotence of the Gospel life against the worst the world can wield against the Church. This, of course is not the case. As in the tribulation of the early Church, persecution only proved the mettle of those dedicated to the Gospel of their Lord Jesus Christ. It gives glory to God. This will always be the case in any persecution. So, let us not be deceived into thinking the saved will be removed prior to or during a tribulation.
A second point against the so-called "pre-tribulation rapture" of the Church is that if all the good are taken up only the unsaved will be left. How can un-evangelized people get evangelized without preachers and living examples of Gospel life (see Romans 10:14-17)? The final tribulation will require the greatest saints in the history of the Church. These holy people will bear witness to the power of God like the two witnesses in the Book of Revelation (Rev 11). Like St. Paul, we should want to remain (Phil 1:24) and endure the tribulation, that we may save some from the fire (Jude 1:22).
What would Satanís response to an escape like the so called Ďpre-tribulation raptureí of the saved Christians. Well, first of all he would see a personal success, his enemies, the good people have fled. Secondly, he would see that he had succeeded in overcoming his main opposition. Finally, he could shout in triumph, "Run you cowards". It is clear that such an escape plan would appeal to those who do not believe their faith is sufficient to endure the tribulation but I donít think any reasonable, courageous and faithful Christian could really believe in such a defeatist hope.
Let us turn to the predicted tribulations. For simplicity sake let us look at the tribulation as two different kinds. One is the political and has to do with persecution for the Faith, as has been happening in Eastern Europe, Asia and elsewhere and is predicted to happen under the reign of Antichrist. The second type is mainly physical disasters that would primarily do harm to the body. In either kind of tribulation Christians are called to demonstrate the victory of Christ in their lives. I want to consider here, the physical kinds of disasters coming on the world, which I see as a sign of God's mercy.
Old Testament descriptions of the disasters that are to visit the world are often seen as God's wrath. Even in Matthew 24:21 we read, "Öfor those days will be more filled with anguish than any from the beginning of the world until now or in all ages to come." In studying these prophesied disasters in the light of the merciful Jesus we meet through Mary, we can only conclude that even these tribulations are for the good of mankind.
I believe that in His mercy God will offer chances for people to repent of their evil and turn to live a life consistent with God's goodness. He will do this through the preaching of the Good News by his chosen ones. He will also call the human race to repentance through natural and supernatural warnings. The reason for this is that God, in His mercy, does not desire the death of the wicked but wishes that the wicked turn from sin and live (Ez 18:23 & 33:11).
Spiritually speaking, for the repentant, even if the body dies, it simply means going to live for eternity with God - life everlasting. So death, for the saved, is really a birth to eternal life. As St. Paul says, "to die is to gain" (Phil 1:21). In fact, I would say those who survive the great chastisement may see a terrible carnage and will likely envy the dead. We read in Zechariah 13 (8) the one third who survive will be tested as with fire. The dead in Christ will be in heaven, but the trials of those remaining alive on Earth will continue. Those who are left after such a disaster will also demonstrate their faith in God by living a triumphant Christian life.
God's unbounded mercy is to save all people. That, of course, may require that He harvest the Earth in a way that will wake up His people to their need for salvation. God is not limited in how He could do this including local or even world-wide disasters. If it turns people to God then it will achieve its end. Godís acts (words) never return void they always bring to God fruit (Is 55:11).
On the other hand, if people are left to continue indefinitely on their broad road to perdition, it would appear as if God was not concerned about the eternal salvation of His people. However, we know God does care for His children. So much so that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life (Jn 3:16). Therefore, it would show greater love if the mortal life of his people be cut short in order that they may have the best opportunity to attain eternal life.
In this light even the tribulation of HIV/AIDS can be seen as a sign of God's mercy. Take, for instance, a person who is infected with the virus as a result of a life of sinful sexual behaviour. This lifestyle in itself is leading the person to eternal death. If the individual is brought to re-examine his life because of the reality of the disease, he will have an opportunity to repent of any evil and turn to God. If he does his soul will be saved. In such a scenario, one can see God's mercy at work, even in this terrible disease. He saves the wretched by their very wretchedness (Job 36:15).
I have in front of me a drawing of Jesus, Mary, Mother Teresa and the cross of Jesus sketched by an oriental man who lived in an inner city rooming house. He was afflicted with the AIDS disease but through the care and concern of Mother Teresa's sisters, the man became a Catholic, was baptized and died a holy death. This man certainly emphasizes the point I am making.
Mind you there are many innocent victims of AIDS. God in his mercy can also use the suffering of these people, if it is humbly accepted and offered to Him, to provide the grace of salvation to others. In fact, even if we do not offer our sufferings specifically to Jesus but love Him, He can still use our sufferings to bring about good, since He turns everything to good for those who love Him (Rm 8:28). I would go one step further and say that anyone who suffers with acceptance can receive grace to come to an acceptance of God and thereby be saved.
Let me continue, even if two thirds of the world are killed in a chastisement where most, who might otherwise not receive salvation, call upon the Name of the Lord and are saved (Jl 3:5 & Rm 10:13) this should not be seen as such a great disaster. Rather this would be seen as a sign of God's mercy and longsuffering. The few predicted to survive this harvesting of the earth would also be purified and like Noah and his family after the flood will have a new start. This great tribulation will then become known as the time of God's greatest mercy where He acted to save so many from the imminent flames of eternal hell fire.
So, let me conclude this section on co-redemption with a brief summary. We are redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. By the shedding of his blood Jesus obtained the grace of salvation for all. The body and blood for His sacrifice Jesus received from Mary, His mother. Along with giving Him the means of his sacrifice, Mary joined him in a special and particular way in his sacrifice. God further opens the sacrifice of Calvary to those who join their sufferings to the sufferings of Christ for His body the Church. In this we have Jesus the Redeemer and Mary as Co-redeemer and each member of the body of Christ acting as co-redeemer obtaining or acquiring grace for the members of Christís body the Church.