October 18, 2020
It can be amazing when we stop and think about how God works.
What a shock it can be to discover that God not only works through religious people, happy people, and in times of great and wonderful events that happen in our lives, but also He can work through saints and sinners, aliens, rich, or poor or through whomever; He can even work through what seems like failures or disasters. This Sunday's readings seem to reflect on this idea.
In the first reading we hear of the experience of how God worked in the lives of the Jews in Exile in Babylon. They were at a point of giving up. They were sure that God had abandoned them.
King Cyrus conquered the king of Babylon, and he was a pagan, a Gentile, a non believer in God.
Would he free the Hebrews?
How could God possibly work through Him?
This all took place in the sixth century B.C.
What was so amazing was the fact that King Cyrus wanted and allowed the exiled Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their homes and their temple.
He even gave them funds so all that would be done.
Who would have thought that God would work through a non believer, a pagan king?
Paul writes this letter while on one of his missionary journeys, sometime around 50 AD.
He praised this Christian community on how they had made the message of Christ’s mercy, compassion, forgiveness, etc. present to others.
I wonder what kind of letter Paul would write to us?
It is so easy to justify ourselves during the times when we don't have mercy, or compassion, or forgiveness; in other words, when we sin. We might just give excuses!
Paul experienced what a struggle it could be to be Christian, seeing God work ones struggles and fears; that was one reason he wrote to this early Christian community.
He encouraged them by letting them know that he was praying for them.
Sometimes it is so easy to forget that we are all being prayed for daily. In spite of our failures, our lack of charity even to the enemy, our sins, we are encouraged to start again, and not to give in to our frustrations with ourselves, with our failures, or with other difficult people.
God will never give up on us, never!
In the Gospel reading we hear the following message...
Jesus was showing the Scribes and Pharisees, (who believed that God would only work through the holy, religious people, like themselves), but God works through anyone and any event.
Jesus wanted them to understand that they should not put limits on how God worked.
Jesus is letting us know that God certainly works through our faith, but He also works through all types of people, good, bad, or indifferent; He even works through all our human institutions and laws.
Even when things in government don't go the right way or the way we think, God is at work. Perhaps He is showing us that in the face of injustice, we often remain silent. Or maybe He shows us our own sins toward the poor, the homeless, the unjust, the enemy. Or He maybe He is trying to show us our judgements, our own lack of compassion, or our own indifference, our sins.
It is always a gift from God to be able see our sins and then to pray for the grace not remain silent in the face of injustice, prejudices, unfairness, or mistreatment of a particular class of people.
This week is a time, once again, to become aware of how God is working in our lives, through both positive and negative people, and through the events, positive and negative, that we all will face this week.
Pray that we may see our sinfulness a little clearer, and then experience God's forgiveness, mercy, and yes, His call to each of us once again.
I have called you by name at your Baptism.
Don't be afraid.
Give my mercy and forgiveness to all you meet.