Au In the beginning was the Word

1.- The day of the Lord is devaluated. In many instances, it becomes a rite, a habit, an obligation. When the prophet Zephaniah announces it, it is the judgment day that irrupts in History: I will wipe out everything from the face of the earth… I will wipe humankind from the face of the earth (Zep 1,2-3). The judgment also reaches to a people which assumes it is believer, but that adores foreign gods, it fills the temple with violence and fraud, and says in its heart: Yahweh does not do good or evil (1, 4-13). Does the same happen now? Is the judgment day relegated to farther away? What is the Lord wiping out?

2.- God´s word addresses Zephaniah in Josiah’s time, before its reform (about 622) and before Jeremiah’s predication (about 627). The word denounces the deep religious and moral degeneration of a people which assume to be believer, but who adores other gods. For half a century it adopts a servile attitude before the Assyrian empire. King Manases sends troops to support Assyrian army in his campaign against Egypt (667-664).

3.- In this context, the prophet announces that the day of the Lord is near, a day which may seem incredibly hard and frightful, but that places the nations on the needle of a balance, before the terrible consequences of their terrible actions: It is a day of wrath, anguish and distress; a day of destruction and devastation, of gloom and darkness; it is a day of dark clouds and fog when the trumpet sounds the call for battle, and the enemy attacks the fortresses and the high fortified towers. I will bring misfortune on these people and they will grope along like the blind, for they did not respect Yahweh. Their blood will be pored out like dust and their remains will lie like dung (Zep 1,14-17). It is a law of history: He who uses the sword will perish by the sword (Mt 26,52), says Jesus.

4.- Really, men and nations find themselves before a key option, between two ways. In a special way, the believer people should know it: See, I set before you on this day life and good, evil and death (Dt 30,15). Before the day of the Lord arrives, a change of mentality and behaviour is urgent: Gather together and assemble O shameless people, that you may be scattered by the wind like a heap of straw when the anger of Yahweh comes upon you (Zep 2,1-2).

5.- Conversion allows to flee the judgement that comes: Seek Yahweh, all you poor of the land who fulfil his commands, do justice and are meek, and perhaps you will find refuge on the day Yahweh comes to judge (Zep 2,3). Of course, that day will be necessary to find refuge and protection. Nevertheless, the believer is not afraid of the day of the Lord. It is sung in the psalms: He comes to judge the earth! (Ps 96). That is what Jesus tells Nicodemus: Whoever believes in him will not be condemned; he who does not believe is already condemned… Light has come into the world and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds will be shown as evil. (Jn 3, 18-19).

Edom, Moab y Amón6.- The day of the Lord is the judgment of the nations. It is necessary to look to the four cardinal points. To the west, the listines, the sea peoples: The seacoast shall be like pastures (Zep 2,6). To the east, Moab and Amon: I have heard the affronts of Moab and the mockery of the Ammonites who insulted my people and extended their boundaries at the expense of my territory. (Zep 2,8). To the south, the ethiopians, th at in this case are the egyptians: The threat of my sword also hangs over them (Zep 2,12). To the north, the Assyrian empire: The Lord will raise his hand against the north and reduce Assyria to ruins and he will leave Nineveh in utter desolation… the happy city that felt secure in her own power and said to herself: I and none but I. (Zep 2,13-15). Nineveh´s fall takes place the year 612 b.C. If we look the world map today, ¿What do we find?.

7.- The judgment reaches Jerusalem too, the rebel, stained and oppressor city: She did not pay attention to the call nor accept the correction; she did not trust Yahweh nor did she approach her God. Her kings are like roaring lions; her rulers like evening wolfs that do not leave even a bone for the next day. Her prophets defile whatever is sacred with no respect for the Law (Zep 3,1-4).

8.- The prophet announces not only the judgment, he also announces God´s salvation, his salvation also reaches the nations, it depends of each one´s attitude: At that time I will give truthful lips to the pagan nations that all of them may call on the name of Yahweh and serve him with the same zeal. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia those who trust me will come together with the dispersed Israelites and bring offerings to me. (Zep 3,9-10).

9.- The salvation reaches Jerusalem too; really, the rest of Israel: I will leave within you a poor and meek people, the rest of Israel who will seek refuge in God. (Zep 3,12-13), On that day they will say to Jerusalem: do not be afraid nor let your hands tremble!, for Yahweh your God is with you, saving warrior. He will jump for joy on seeing you, for he has revived his love. He will cry out with joy and celebrate a feast because of you. Turn away from that evil I warned you about the shame that weighs upon you. On that day I will face your oppressors; I will save the lame sheep and bring the lost back… On that day I will be good to you and gather you to make you famous and honourable among the peoples of the earth (Zep 3, 16-20). It is the Annunciation passage: Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you… Do not fear Mary, for God has looked kindly on you (Lk 1, 28-30), he threw away from the throne the powerful and exalted the poor (Lk 1,32).

10.- Like John the Baptist will say, the inherited religion: Produce now the fruits of a true change of heart, and don´t deceive yourselves by saying: We are sons of Abraham. For I tell you, God can make sons of Abraham from these stones. The axe is already laid to the root of the tree and every tree that fails to produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire (Lk 3, 8-9). The day of the Lord is near: He comes with a winnowing fan to clear his threshing floor and gather the grain into his barn. But the chaff he will burn with fire that never goes out. (Lk 3,17)

11.- Jesús also announces the day of the judgment. The cities that reject the signals of the gospel are forwarded to that day: For Tire and Sidon it will be more bearable on the day of judgment than for you (Mt 11,21-22). The citizens of Nineveh who listened Jonah´s predication, and the queen of the south, who admired Salomon´s wisdom, will raise this generation and condemn it (Mt 12,41-42) In a special way, Jesus announces Jerusalem fall, the one that slay the prophets and stone your apostles (Lk 13,34), the one that does not understand the ways of peace (Lk 19,41-44). Peace is a fruit of conversion. In the year 70, Vespasian troops assault the city. In the opportune moment, the Christian community flees out of Jerusalem and perceives the accomplishment of God´s word, who comes on the clouds of heaven: you will see him, Jesus said to Caiaphas (Mt 26,64).

12.- A great judicial session farther from history is the traditional image (apocalyptic) of the final judgment, with the son of man like judge: and he will send the angels to gather his chosen people from the four winds (Mk 13,27). The measure according with nations will be judged: For I was hungry and you fade me, I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me into your house, I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you went to see me… whenever you did this to one of the least to my brothers, you did it to me (Mt 25,35-40).

13.- The day of the judgment arrives like the God´s kingdom. God reigns, God acts, God speaks, God judges. It is not a mere additional event. It is a transcendental fact, but it irrupts in history: The kingdom of God is not like something you can observe and say of it: “Look, here it is! There it is!. See, the kingdom of God is among you (Lc 17, 20-21). The day of the Lord arrives like a lightning, which is observed from anywhere: For the Son of Man will appear like lightning that flashes from one end of the sky to the other. (Lc 17, 24).

14.- On Pentecost day, announcing Jesus like Lord, Peter calls to conversion, he announces the gift of the spirit and he exhorts to flee from that perverse generation: Each one of you must repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins may be forgiven. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise of God was made to you and your children, and to all the other nations whom the Lord our God has called. With many other words… appealed to them saying: Save yourselves from this crooked generation (Acts 2, 38-40).

15.- In the newly born church, a pursued Church, the day of the Lord is an expected day. It is insistently requested: Come, Lord Jesus (Rev 22,20). John, exiled, due to his word and his testimony about Jesus, to Patmos Island, falls in ecstasies in a day of the Lord and listens a great voice, like a trumpet, saying: Write down all that you see, in a book and send to the seven Churches (Rev 1,11). For John this is not a rite, a habit or an accomplishment. The day of the Lord he receives a word that History judges.


* Dialogue:

-         The day of the Lord is devaluated

-         The judgment is left for the beyond

-         It, like the Kingdom of God, is already beginning now.

-         The Lord has his hand on the hay-fork

-         What you see, write it down in a book

-         If we look at the world map, to the four cardinal points, what do we find?