June 22, 2008 - Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
Have you ever had anything bad happen to you? I’m sure you’re sitting there thinking, "of course, who hasn’t?" Have you ever asked yourself, "how could God allow that to happen?" It’s a very common question. Take, for instance, the storm two weeks ago. Those of us who were without power. Those of us who had to throw away food, more food than people in other countries will see in their lifetime. What about the wars? or terrorist attacks?
Quite often I am asked how God can allow certain things to happen. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer. I wish I did, but not when it comes to God. We can usually rationalize a person’s actions since God gave us free will. In 1 Corinthians 2:11 we read "For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."
In our First Reading, Jeremiah could have asked this question a lot. He is thrown to the wolves, he has no real skills, he has people opposing him at every turn, he would tell people to have faith in God and they would repel him. Frustrated with the people who lived in sin, Jeremiah decided to keep quiet, to stop talking on behalf of God. But Jeremiah felt he just had to speak up on behalf of the Lord. Gathering his strength Jeremiah placed his complete trust in the Lord. Upset that Jeremiah was speaking up again on behalf of the Lord, the unbelievers tried to trick him, hoping for his downfall so they could get their revenge.
That evil is the same kind of evil that continues to this day against those who try to persevere in their living faith in Jesus Christ as true Christians. Many try to put out the light because it exposes corruption, dishonesty, oppression, lust and many of the evils of the world that are found in the hearts of some men.
All of these things can lead to fear. But we know that fear is not of God. God is love. This shows a lack of understanding and a missing part of ourselves. In the Gospel today Jesus tell us "Fear no one." But how do we do this? We teach our children not to talk to strangers. We stay out of what are deemed "bad neighborhoods." Is it really possible to fear no one? Fear is largely made up of the unknown.
If you find yourself afraid do you call on Christ? Where is He in your life? Through His Divine Mercy Jesus has taught us to say "Jesus, I trust in you." Do you? Is Jesus the one you see here on Sunday? Seeing Him just on a Sunday at Mass is not good enough. No wonder you fear.
Let’s look back at Jeremiah. He wore a wooden yoke around his neck. Was this to get people’s attention or was it show that God is with him all the time? Why was Jeremiah so disliked? Was it possibly because he made people look at themselves and they didn’t like what they saw? They were sinners. But it was another sinner that led to our eventual salvation. In today's Second Reading, the Letter of Paul to the Romans we see that it is through the sin of disobedience, Adam, all his descendants were called to suffer. Man had lost his inheritance to the eternal Kingdom of God that was intended for a holy people. Since Adam no longer enjoyed the Presence of God, his descendants could not inherit this blessing. But, through to the selfless act of one Man, Jesus Christ, His suffering and death on the cross, many were saved before God. What we lacked then because of sin, has now become our blessed hope for the future.
Jesus must be a presence in our lives! We need to have Him here 24 hours a day. Think what a world this would be if everyone ended their day with Jesus on their mind in prayer. Last week my family and I were out for Father’s Day. The people at the next table asked me to pray with them, offer a blessing over their meal. I realized that this was more than we did at our own table. We have to open our eyes to what is important - Christ! We have to make Him a part of everything we do. When we walk our faith with Jesus, in Jesus and through Jesus, in the eyes of God, we are more valuable then two sparrows. Every hair of our heads is counted. The Lord is our strength. He knows the hearts of all.
Let me tell you about a movie I once saw called "Stars in My Crown." It was about a man who lived a very simple life. He was good to the town children. He taught many of them to hunt and fish, read them stories - he was much like an "Uncle Remus" figure to the children. It was found that there was a rich deposit of copper that ran under his property. But money wasn’t important to him, so he refused an offer to buy his land so that men could mine it. He ignored the businessmen’s threats. This angered the local townspeople. They decided that they were going to take matters into their own hands. Being as he would not sell his property they were going to hang him. The local preacher heard what was to happen so he rode out to the man’s house. When the townspeople arrived, the man and the preacher walked out onto the porch together. The preacher announced that the man knew he was going to die and had asked the preacher to read his last will and testimony. The preacher begins by giving someone named Pete a fishing rod because the man remembers the first bass Pete caught with it. He gives James a rifle because he remembers teaching James how to shoot. Item by item, the man proceeded to give in love to the very people who had come to take his life. One-by-one, the would-be executioners turned away in silence until no one was left. The little grandson of the man had been watching from a distance. When everyone was gone he ran up to the porch and said to his grandfather, "what kind of will was that?" And the man said, "it was the Will of God."
Things happen around us; things we have no answer for. We question how God could let certain things happen. But we must accept these things as the Will of God. God does everything for a reason. We may not see that at first, but if we open our hearts to God 100% of the time, we will see that God has a reason for everything. The man in the story did not fear and neither should we.
Jesus came to save the world. He died on the cross for us. We need to live in this world and act in this world with no fear. If we have faith in God then we can get through any situation without questioning Him. And then we will truly have a life in Christ.
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