by Fr. Jonathan Atchley, in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
There was once a great king, renowned for his wisdom and influence. Yet despite his great power over the kingdom, he held but a very small army of soldiers to defend his people. “My subjects know well my loyalty to them, and that I would never allow lasting harm to overcome them,” he would demur when pressed why he didn’t tax more and wield a mighty army.
But one day the inevitable happened and a band of ruffians took to the streets, terrorizing his subjects and the city’s defenders were routed and terribly humiliated. But when the city broke out in flames and all seemed lost, an immense troop of mercenaries, larger than the combined kingdom and surrounding regions could boast, arrived to defend the kingdom. These good men defeated the king’s enemies, restored order in his kingdom and helped rebuild what was lost.
Timidly, several citizens called upon the king with reproaches. “Your highness, we trusted you with our welfare and our lives, yet you did not defend us when we needed your help the most. Why should we remain loyal subjects when it seems you do not really care for us?”
The king smiled sadly, knowing this too would occur one day. He replied, “All I have is yours here in our lovely home. Yes, peace reigned, until one day it didn’t. No worldly king can foresee every eventuality. But I thought it better to rule with kindness than with overbearing forces, which I demonstrated these many years. That some wanted to take advantage of our hospitality was perhaps foreordained, but questioning my loyalty and ability to rule was not. If you wish, leave my kingdom; depart and never return. I will have order, but even more, I want fidelity from my subjects for whom I live to protect and defend.”
People may wonder why God allows all the strife of life, while sinners proliferate, and good people suffer harm and even death for his sake. Why doesn’t God speak up and do something? Why does he allow the present world of affairs to go on if he is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving?
Consider this, his likely reply: In heaven, there will be eternal rejoicing. No tears, no suffering, only perfect peace and joy. There God will be forever exalted and glorified for eternity, without end, forever and ever, because angels and saints will be able to see and realize that he is indeed worthy of perfect praise and celebration. But the real glory he receives is now, when those who love him do so because he asks it of us. We trust and believe, and that gives him more glory and honor, especially if it means we suffer and even die for him, than all the “happy ever after” unending eternity of heavenly bliss which he already enjoys.
While we yet cannot see or fully fathom the limitless infinity of God’s power and majesty, to trust that he is without limits in goodness and truth, and to do so unstintingly and without reserve, believing his revelation which is not unreasonable, gives him a glory that will be returned to us in eternity. This is our calling and destiny as a people of God, but not until we invest ourselves here with faith, hope and love in fidelity to the Lord, our almighty, all loving, beneficent king.