Sunday, October 6, 2013

Why Do You Let Me See Ruin?

Finding the connection between the Sunday readings can be difficult.  I was struggling to find a semblance of
unity until I heard the offertory chant (yes there’s a proper offertory chant for each Sunday of the year!  My parish is one of the few that uses it.)  It was sung in Latin, but here’s a translation from my missal “There was a man in the Land of Hus who name was Job, a blameless, upright and God-fearing man; Satan asked to be allowed to tempt him, and the Lord gave him power over his possessions and his body; and so, he destroyed his possessions and his children, and he ravaged his flesh with horrible sores.”  Each of the Scripture readings from the Liturgy offer insight into how to handle the feeling of being abandoned by God.

The first reading assures us of God’s faithfulness to his word.  “For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.”  Habakkuk assures us that God’s promises will be fulfilled.  God’s plan will not be thwarted.  However, we need to keep in mind that our prayers are not meant to conform God to us, but to conform us to God.  That is why we’re called to be patient and realize that while we will experience the beginnings of the joy of God’s kingdom in this life, it won’t reach completion until eternal life.

When the voice of the Lord brings us suffering and hardship, we must not harden our hearts, but open them in love to the Father.  We are called to imitate Jesus through the Cross, which is the path to the resurrection.  It is through our weakness that God demonstrates His power and that we become witnesses to Christ in the world.  Rather than harden our hearts, we must “bow down in worship… For he is our God, and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.”  Like sheep who trust the shepherd, we must trust that God is shepherding us towards green pastures.

That’s not easy, so St. Paul reminds us “to stir into flame the gift of God.”  This gift is the power to live as God’s children.  The second reading continues, “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.”  If God is calling you to suffer, he won’t withhold from you the means to endure.  Guard the gift of the Spirit that dwells within you by seeking God’s help in prayer.  If you are seeking relief from temptation or strength to endure, beg the Lord until help arrives.  Knock at all hours of the night.

Because even if you show the faith the size of a mustard seed, God will listen to your prayer.  St. Luke writes, “If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”  God is waiting for you to ask for the gift of grace.  He knows that the life of purity and holiness is impossible without His help.  It is like uprooting and planting a mulberry tree simply by the command of one’s voice.  It’s impossible!  But not for God through whom all things are possible.

Therefore, we faced with trials like Job, take heart.  Jesus has ascended into heaven and reigns as King of the Universe.  The devil lays vanquished at his feet.  His promise to help will be fulfilled; he will guide you like a good shepherd if you do not harden your heart, but stir up the gift of God.  The Spirit will be given to you to accomplish the impossible even if you have the smallest faith.

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