“The world is very evil, The times are waxing late: Be sober and keep vigil, The Judge is at the gate: The Judge that comes in mercy, The Judge that comes with might, To terminate the evil, To diadem the right.” TLH #605
Those of us who remember September 11, 2001 have vivid memories of the evil perpetrated that day. We have images burned in our minds that never seem to fade. But evil from terrorists isn’t the only kind we are familiar with. There is the evil of war and the evil of rioting. Evil is present when people die in natural disasters or from the negligence or incompetence of those who constructed a failed bridge or high-rise building. Evil is present in our own hate, anger, and jealousy. Though all evil can be traced back to Satan, Jesus tells us that evil comes out of each one of us. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matt. 15:19). I suppose we could rewrite Bernard of Cluny’s hymn quoted above as “The heart is very evil.”
Nevertheless, Jesus also tells us how we should consider the evil we see in the world. Jesus was asked about those who were killed by Pilate as they were offering sacrifices in the temple, an evil intentionally perpetrated by Pilate akin to the September 11th attacks. Jesus responded with another account, the tower of Siloam that fell and killed 18 people, an example of a natural disaster or perhaps the negligence of the builder. Jesus’ exhortation concerning these events is found in Luke 13:5, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Such evil in the world should remind us that Jesus is coming again at a time we do not expect, and even our own deaths can come at a time we do not expect. Thus, we should always be ready, living lives of repentance and faith, faith in the one coming in mercy to terminate the evil and reveal the right, our Lord Jesus.