anyone ever told you you come across like a rigid fundamentalist hell fire
and brimstone preacher? Jesus shows compassion for human frailties even to
those who dont deserve it.
pparently, you have the idea that
someone who preaches fire and brimstone doesnt have any compassion
for the weaknesses of others. But do you know who was the first Christian
fire and brimstone preacher?
. . . on the
day when Lot left Sodom, fire and brimstone rained from the sky to destroy
them all. So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.
Thats right. Jesus. He
who shows compassion for human frailties even to those who dont
deserve it nevertheless warns us of the dire consequences of
The Dire Consequences
To help you grasp this point,
read the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 7:538:11). Jesus
did not condemn the woman. But He told her, Go, and from now on do
not sin anymore. In other words, He did not just pat her on the head
and say, There, there. Its all right to shack up with someone
as long as you believe you love him. No. He told her quite
plainly to change her ways. Why? Because if she didnt, she was in grave
danger of the same fire and brimstone rained down on Sodom. Go, and
from now on do not sin anymore, He warned her.
Now that, however
rigid it might sound to many persons in todays world of
secular humanism, is
Christ came into this world because
of His compassion for our slavery to sin. Though He was in the form of
God, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather,
He emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness
of men (Philippians 2:6-7). And though He was in the form of God, He
taught us gently and compassionately. He took all His enemies hatred
and insults patiently, without retaliatingand
without calling down fire from heaven, as James and John once
asked Him to do (Luke 9:54). He did this all to
redeem us from sin, to
show us that true love is
a matter of wanting to help even our enemies to be saved from their sins,
all because of our love for God.
But thats not the end of
Christ will come again, to judge
the living and the dead. In this second coming, though, Christ will come
in glory, not meekness, and He will be wearing a blood-stained cloak (Revelation
19:13) to remind us what our hatred and insults did to Him the first time.
And at that time those who have refused to acknowledge and
repent their sinsthat is, those who
have rejected His gentle mercywill find out
what fire and brimstone is all about.
Saviour[s first coming] was to fulfill His plan of love, to
teach men by gentle persuasion. This time [at His second coming],
whether men like it or not, they will be subjects of His Kingdom by
From a catechetical
by Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, bishop
(Office of Readings, First Sunday of Advent)