Neglected Books of the Old Testament: Zephaniah
We are approaching the Feast of Christ the King, coming at the end of the month. In this feast, we are invited to renew our faith in the promises of Christ, that he will return again to judge the world, to bring human life to its final culmination. We believe that his return will be the moment of truth, par-excellence, when all that is hidden will revealed.
Guardini writes in his Eternal Life,
The prophet Zephaniah speaks much of the destruction that will come about on the day of the Lord. He warns of the terrible fate that awaits those who reject the Lord (1.6), those who have turned to worship false God’s (1.5), those who put their trust in the silver and gold (1.18). We can understand these prophecies, as always, by looking to Jesus. Jesus has taken upon himself all of the destructive power of evil and experienced within himself, the full force of all that hell could unleash upon him. Sold for silver, Jesus drank the dregs of human sin and suffering, and was swept from the face of the earth (1.3). But death could not hold him; rising in might and power, he gathered us to himself (2.1) and brought us home (3.20) into the kingdom of light of life. This is to say that Jesus has brought about the day of the Lord within himself, and has undergone for us, the fate that was to befall us. He has dealt with our enemies (3.19) by confronting the evil one and overtaking him, with the power of his love.
But we can understand these prophecies in another way. When Jesus returns, he will show us what is untrue within ourselves. He will show us where we have worshipped the false gods of money, or the gym, or sex, or even our good deeds. He will show us the lies we have sought to build our identities upon and reveal to us the truth of the lies we have sought to live. These idols must be destroyed because they are unworthy of us; they must give way so that the life of Christ can fully be made alive within us.
They will do no wrong; they will tell no lies.
A deceitful tongue will not be found in their mouths. (3.13)
And then he will pronounce his judgement upon us;
The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy.
The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm.
On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves He will take great delight in you in his love he will no longer rebuke you but will rejoice over you with singing. (3.15-18)
So we need not fear the Day of the Lord. Christ has already brought it about in his death and resurrection, and now invites us to choose him again. He invites us, through the Holy Mass, in Confession, in prayer, in love of our neighbour, to see that the Day of the Lord has come and to claim his victory as our own.