This morning I took a walk out my front door and over to the parish office, and I noticed something odd...what I presumed to be a piece of garbage on the top step leading to the main entrance of my church. My first thought was one of frustration that someone would leave their rubbish behind, most especially in so disrespectful a fashion. On closer inspection, the piece of paper was deliberately left there, held in place with a small rock. I was perplexed for a variety of reasons.
First of all, who walks about town with notebook paper and a red marker? Was my church the only site of such a message left behind? Which direction was the anonymous author facing whilst sitting on the steps of my church? Then I immediately began to hope that he was looking away from my church...not because of the object of his sight being called "Babylon"--we Catholics have been called far worse. But because I worried that I had left a light on all night!
And I began to reflect on the question posed to me, the Priest of this Temple. "What kind of world do we now live in?" It's such a loaded question, the answer to which is difficult to give without some context. Was the author still reeling from the much-publicized shootings in Louisiana and Texas? Was this a victim of the devastating floods here in our own Mountain State? What was it that so weighs on the soul of this individual that the need arose to leave a note?
In my few short weeks as the new parish priest in Weston, WV, I have encountered some exceptional people, some of whom are very spiritually gifted and from whom I expect to learn a great deal.
Seeing the lights of Babylon from the steps of the Temple is an excellent image, as it reminds me that no matter how safe we may feel, no matter how comfortable we may be in our faith, or how righteous we see ourselves, the lights of Babylon burn brightly in our world--the lights of a civilization that stands opposed to right religion, that seeks our demise, that demands nothing less than full compliance with its hedonistic, godless view of life. And we who stand at the gates of the Temple, guarding that which has been entrusted to us by God Almighty, must be vigilant and ever ready to defend the Temple from the forces of evil. The lights of the army encamped against us burn bright in the darkness but are quickly dimmed by the radiance of the Morning Star, the Sun of Justice that never sets.
What kind of world do we live in? A world besieged, beleaguered, broken, and debased. But also a world redeemed. A world illumined by the light of Faith and the gleam of hope that enobles the hearts of men, drawing them from a place of fear and cowardice, and perching them on the pinnacle of Temple to cry out in a voice that speaks of Justice, of Peace, of the Reign of our Sovereign King and Lord, the Lion of Juda who extinguishes the lights of Babylon and drives into oblivion the armies of the Enemy!
Maybe this isn't the answer my unnamed scribe seeks. Tonight I shall sit on the steps of the Temple and see what may be seen. May my plea to God be ever the same as the words of Bartimaeus to Our Lord when asked what he should like Him to do: "Domine, it videam." Lord, that I might see.