Recently I mentioned a need for security at a work event, and the person with whom I was speaking asked jokingly: “What kind of hell have you kids been raising over there?”
That got me thinking.
I was flipping through the book of Job the other day (long story) and my eye was caught by the very beginning, when the scene is being set, and Scripture has the devil telling God he’s been “roaming and patrolling the earth.” Then we get going with all that bad-news-for-Job stuff, and there’s a lot of downhill before God pulls everything way back up. The point is, during his “patrolling,” the devil noticed Job, and claims Job is only so good because God has him in some sort of devil-free bubble zone. Give me a shot at him, the devil brags, and we’ll see if Job likes You so much then.
A priest I know once referred to trust as “the seal of the children of God.” And trust, I hear, doesn’t really have a chance to happen until there’s an occasion for it to be tested. C.S. Lewis explains this by saying “[God] wants us to learn to walk, and so He must take away His hand.” In other words: God gives Job a chance to grow in trust because He loves him. Everything else was stripped away so that Job could stand face to face with God and say, “I’m all that I have I left, and I’m still yours.” God allowed tragedy in Job’s life in order to allow Job the real freedom to choose God. To choose God for God Himself and not for His gifts, and regardless of what was happening around and to Job.
But before that moment of understanding, as far as Job was concerned, all Hell had broken loose.
Now, I had some thoughts on this, and could definitely feel a blog post coming on, but decided to do a little research before I got too carried away.
Ya’ll, do not go reading saints if you’re mad at the devil and trying to calm down.
Because see, I am mad. I’ve been watching several of my friends deal with some tough issues: struggling with discouragement, facing personal disappointments, working through deep hurt, and searching for hope that seems tough to find. I’ve even been dealing with some of that myself.
And then it struck me: could it be, we’ve just been raising a little Hell?
Let me explain the thought process. I read part of Dante’s Inferno in college (back in the day), and one part in particular has really stuck in my head over the past several years. Dante describes broken, fallen bridges, ruins of the structures of Hell.
The explanation given for the ruins is the “Harrowing of Hell.”
The Catechism explains this idea of Hell being harrowed by stating, “In His human soul united to His divine person, the dead Christ went down to the realm of the dead. He opened Heaven’s gates for the just who had gone before Him.”
Google the definition of “harrow” and you’ll get a fascinating selection. Sort through the entries about various farming tools, and the relevant items seem to be “to inflict great distress or torment” and “to plunder and sack.”
Is anybody else grinning yet?
So, Christ’s Passion and Death caused great distress and torment in Hell. He sacked Limbo by freeing the souls of the just to see the face of God for eternity.
Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection = bad news for Hell.
And, friends, if we’re called to follow Christ…
At this point I will play my “saints” card and allow them to explain better.
To Be Continued…