Scripture Verses for Our Times

   The Bible tells us that all Scripture is “inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation [of heresy and false beliefs], for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).  However, it seems certain biblical verses are especially relevant for the specific times in which we live.  That we may be like the wise householder who brought forth from his storeroom valuable things both old and new (cf. Mt. 13:52), let us look at a dozen Scripture verses in particular, along with a brief commentary or suggestion on what they may mean for us today.

   1.  2 Chronicles 7:14  –  If My people, upon whom My Name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek My presence and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from Heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land.

   Numerous Christian authors and commentators have pointed to this verse as suggesting there is still hope for America:  despite our nation’s ongoing rebellion against divine authority, a great spiritual healing or revival can occur if there is sufficient prayer and repentance.  Evidence for the continuing moral decline of the United States, and a list of the problems and challenges facing our nation, is far too extensive to detail here (and many worthwhile books have already been written on this subject).  The most important point, of course, is that it’s not too late for America to repent and humble itself before God—and doing so will avert many possible chastisements, and result in great blessings.  This mission of spiritual renewal falls especially upon us as Catholics because of the many graces and religious resources available to us (cf. Lk. 12:48).  Our prayers, Mass intentions, acts of penance, sacrifices, and attendance at Masses of Reparation, are more spiritually valuable, and more urgently needed, than perhaps ever before in American history.  We live in a time of great moral darkness—but the light of divine mercy and love is readily available to us, if only we as a society are willing to seek it.

   2.  Isaiah 5:20  –  Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness into light, and light into darkness. . . .

   There was a time when almost all Americans recognized the sinfulness, or at least disapproved of, cohabitation (once called “living in sin”), fornication, illegitimacy, homosexual behavior, immodesty in speech and dress, vulgar behavior, laziness, personal and financial irresponsibility, and other forms of social pathology.  Now, however, the news media, entertainment industry, educational system, and various other cultural elites insist that certain things—including same-sex marriage and gender-identity issues—are to be not only tolerated, but actively celebrated and embraced, while insisting that a refusal to do so is “homophobic,” “sexist,” or “oppressive.”  It doesn’t matter that various well-documented sociological and historical studies have shown these behaviors to be unhealthy or even self-destructive for the practitioners and for their society as a whole; a perverted “freedom” or “self-autonomy” trumps all.  As this Scripture verse from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah implies, nothing good can come from tampering with God’s standards of righteousness.

   3.  Isaiah 26:20-21  –  Go, My people, enter your chambers, and close your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a brief moment, until the wrath is past.  See, the Lord goes forth from His place, to punish the wickedness of the earth’s inhabitants; the earth will reveal the blood upon her, and no longer conceal her slain.

   This often-overlooked but highly significant verse seems to refer to the long-prophesied “Three Days of Darkness,” when a deadly and pestilential darkness will cover the earth.  According to numerous private revelations given to St. Pio of Pietrelcina and many others, during these three terrifying days, God will allow evil spirits to “harvest” the souls of all evildoers, killing them and carrying them off to hell; as this is happening, the righteous find refuge in their homes or churches, praying the Rosary while huddling around the flame of blessed candles (the only possible source of illumination).  All the prophecies state that this horrific but necessary event will usher in an “Era of Peace” marked by prosperity and religious unity under the leadership of the Catholic Church.  No one knows exactly when this time of cleansing will occur, but many contemporary alleged prophets claim this deliverance from evil will take place within our lifetimes.

   4.  Amos 3:7  –  Indeed, the Lord God does nothing without revealing His plans to His servants, the prophets.

   The Church has always recognized God’s freedom to grant mystical experiences, visions, apparitions, locutions (interior messages), or other heavenly communications to any person of His choosing.  These private revelations, of course, never carry the same authority as Scripture and Tradition, nor do they add to or subtract from Divine Revelation or Church teaching—but they can help or inspire particular individuals or groups to live out the Faith more completely and authentically in any given period (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 67).  Prophecies contained within private revelation are almost always “conditional”:  if there is sufficient prayer and repentance, the chastisements they warn of can be lessened or prevented.  The vast numbers of revelations being given to alleged contemporary prophets (which are far too many for the Church to investigate formally) strongly suggest that Heaven is doing everything possible to get our attention before it’s too late.  While no Catholic is required to believe private revelations, many times prudence suggests they be given careful consideration.

   5.  John 15:18-19  –  If the world hates you, realize that it hated Me first.  If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.

   More than a few religious authors have documented a growing animosity toward Christian belief and practice not only in Western Europe, but also in the United States—especially by persons in the fields of entertainment, popular culture, education, politics, and the legal and judicial system.  (Here in America this trend has moderated during the presidency of Donald Trump, but may well resume and even intensify once he is out of office.)  Indeed, various experts, and several contemporary alleged prophets, point to the very real possibility of an outright religious persecution in our country.  If and when it occurs, this event will be no surprise to those who take Our Lord’s words seriously.  For most of its history, America has been noted for its religious freedom and tolerance; however, we as Catholics have no guarantee this state of affairs will always be so.

   6.  John 16:2-3  –  They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God.  They will do this because they have not known either the Father or Me.

   For Christians in Muslim-dominated lands, this warning directly refers today to the threat of militant Islam, whose adherents practice violence in the name of their God “Allah”.  For faithful Catholics in the United States, these words may soon apply to a prophesied schism (division) within the Church, foretold by Our Lady to the late Father Stefano Gobbi, at Akita, Japan (1973), and elsewhere.  It’s prophesied the larger, schismatic church will temporarily gain the upper hand, altering traditional teachings and watering-down sexual morality, while vilifying “divisive” and “old-fashioned” Catholics who refuse to go along.  These persecuted members of the remnant Church will be forced to meet in homes and other places of refuge, having Mass in secret and offering prayers and acts of penance while awaiting the promised renewal of the Bride of Christ.

   7.  Revelation 3:15-16  –  I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either cold or hot.  So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.

   According to surveys, most American Catholics do not believe in the Church’s teaching on Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist or follow the Church’s teachings on sexual morality; according to empty pews and declining collections, most Catholics do not attend weekend Mass or support the Church financially.  In a word, most American Catholics (and American Christians as a whole) are lukewarm—and thus, completely unprepared for the spiritual and religious challenges they may soon face; because they are like the seed sown on rocky ground, they will not withstand a coming time of spiritual deception and persecution (Mt. 13:20-21).  This makes the prayers and sacrifices offered for their repentance by faithful Catholics all the more valuable and important.

   8.  2 Timothy 3:1-5  –  But understand this:  there will be terrifying times in the last days.  People will be self-centered and lovers of money, proud, haughty, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, irreligious, callous, implacable, slanderous, licentious, brutal, hating what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, as they make a pretense of religion but deny its power.

   Doesn’t this, at least to some extent, sound like a description of our own time?  If so, the lesson we can draw is simple:  everything the Church is currently suffering or will soon undergo (along with the trials of individual believers) has been foretold—and because nothing happens without God’s knowledge and permission (cf. Mt. 10:29-30), He is in charge, and we do not need to fear whatever may come.

   9.  1 Peter 1:6-7  –  In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

   All the difficulties and trials facing us—whether now or in the immediate future—can, if we choose, be an experience of purification, thereby strengthening our faith and drawing us closer to Jesus.  Indeed, some private revelations allegedly given to John Leary, among others, state that faithful Catholics will soon (in the weeks and months leading up to the prophesied Three Days of Darkness) be given the great privilege of undergoing their purgatory on earth.  That is, their patient and trusting endurance of various hardships coming sometime over the next few years will not only prepare members of the remnant Church for the imminent Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (foretold by St. Louis de Montfort, among others) and the prophesied Era of Peace; it will also allow them, when the time comes, to enter the Kingdom of Heaven immediately after a holy and peaceful death.  Even many Catholics who fully believe the Church’s teaching on the reality of purgatory don’t fully comprehend what a great blessing it is to avoid this experience of purification after death.  Many of us alive today will have this wonderful opportunity—and only from the vantage point of eternity will we fully comprehend what a great honor and gift it is to have our faith purified by suffering, even for a short while, in Christ’s Name.

   10.  1 Peter 5:8-9  –  Be sober and vigilant.  Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devout.  Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same suffering.

   One of the great services Pope Francis has rendered the Church is his willingness to speak quite openly about the realities of the devil and spiritual warfare.  Even so, many Catholics today do not treat these subjects with the seriousness they deserve.  Satan is constantly tempting the children of God, and successfully deceiving and leading astray many of them.  As St. Peter says, we must avoid this by remaining steadfast in our faith; we must be willing to engage in spiritual combat (cf. Eph. 6:10-17), using the weapons and defenses Jesus gives us through His Church. 

   11.  Matthew 24:11-13  –  Many false prophets will arise and deceive many; and because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold.  But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.

   This verse warns us of the very real danger of spiritual deception and complacency, but also promises that if we remain true to Jesus, regardless of the cost, He will protect and sustain us, and allow us to share in His coming victory.  Thus, we must pray humbly and persistently that we will “have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man” (Lk. 21:36).

   12.  1 Peter 4:12-13  –  Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when His glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly.

   As the Lord of all history (Rev. 5:5ff) and the Alpha and the Omega (Rev. 22:13), Jesus will triumph over the forces of evil now at work in our world—and if we remain rooted in Him, our present suffering and grief will be turned to joy (cf. Jn. 16:22).  This is the Lord’s promise to us, and it is utterly reliable.

   These twelve Bible verses, along with many others, have a special significance or meaning for our age of sin and doubt—and by meditating and praying over them, we will be able to share more deeply in that light, truth, and peace which only Jesus can give.

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