"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


The California wildfires have made thousands homeless and many more refugees. I know what it is like to be either, even both at the same time. There is of course a purely natural explanation for what's going on; but as I pray about it, I get the sense that there is a spiritual message in it.

The message is that we humans, like forests and brushlands, need periodic purging. That is cold comfort for the victims who don't happen to need it, such as infants, the mentally retarded, or the chronically ill. But such is the effect of original sin that suffering rarely matches deserts. Neither our natural lives in this vale of tears, nor the divinizing action of the Holy Spirit that ought to suffuse those lives, are ultimately about justice. All people have inherited corruption from our first parents without deserving it; through his Son, God extends to all people an offer of eternal life which they can do nothing to merit. Through the wildfire that is the Spirit, God can clear away whatever in our lives is not life-giving, so that he can manifest and communicate his gratuitous goodness, thereby giving us the only sort of happiness that lasts.

If there is justice, it will be in what each person capable of choice turns out to be on the Last Day. That will be up to each of us. If we appear before the Lord Jesus on that day having offered our suffering, undeserved as well as deserved, in union with his perfect self-sacrifice, then it is most likely that justice for us will consist in our being happy with him forever. If we appear before him complaining that the whole cosmic setup is unfair, especially to us, then justice will consist in being miserable forever with the first creature to take that attitude.
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