January 30, 2015
Friday of week 3 in Ordinary Time
Jesus Is An Ongoing Revelation
You have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
Jesus is an ongoing revelation. Dealing with him is full of surprises—most of them, perhaps, the surprising fulfillment of promises we had ceased to count on.
Jesus promises all sorts of things that we don’t experience:
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or wear… But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:25). But aren’t plenty of Christians badly fed, housed and clothed? Do we really believe that if we put spiritual things first, our temporal welfare is guaranteed?
“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you” (Matthew 7:7). Aren’t we still searching for answers we have not found, and asking for graces we have not received? When we go to God, don’t we sometimes feel we are knocking on a closed door?
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me… and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). Aren’t plenty of practicing, law-abiding Christians still seeking peace of soul and not finding it?
“Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive” (Matthew 21:22). Have all of our prayers been answered? Do we really believe they will be?
“I came that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). This might sum up all the other promises. Have I found total fulfillment in life through my relationship with Jesus? Do I think I can?
The readings don’t try to give answers to these questions. But they tell us how to deal with them.
First, Jesus says that what he is doing on earth is “as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.” Things are going on, even though we don’t see them. One day we wake up surprised to see what God has been doing for us.
Do not throw away your confidence; it will have great recompense. You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised… After just a brief moment, he who is to come shall come.
We need to hang in there. The Responsorial Psalm 37 uses three words to tell us how: “Trust… take delight... commit…”
Trust in the Lord and do good…
Take delight in the Lord…
Commit to the Lord your way…
First, we just have to trust. We need to keep doing the “good” we should do, and trust that God is doing what he should do—even if it doesn’t look like it.
Think of it this way: there isn’t much we can give to God in return for everything he has given to us. He has everything, no? But there is something he wants and can’t give to himself: our trust in him. Even though our trust is itself a gift from God, it is one God doesn’t receive back unless we give it freely. It means a lot to God that we should trust him. So let’s give him that. Just do it.
Second, the Psalm says, “Take delight in the Lord.” Instead of focusing on what we think God is not doing for us, we should pay attention to what he is doing for us—most of which we just take for granted. Thank him for existence. Delight in the gift of life, in the food you do have, in hot showers and warm relationships with others. And if much is lacking in these, if we are hungry, cold or lonely, take delight in the Lord himself, who is providing what we do have, and who is always with us, even if we feel no one else is. If we seek personal relationship with him, we will find him. In addition to countless others, every happy celibate is a proof of that.
Finally, and bottom line: “Commit to the Lord your way.” Commitment is the core of self-creation, the price of personal relationship, the measure of authentic religion. Without commitment we are just playing games. And when it comes to love, God does not play around. So if our religion is ruled by our feelings, the bottom line is, we don’t have any religion; none God can recognize. We believe because (assuming we have received the gift of faith) we are committed to believe. We hope because we are committed to hope. And, if all other motives fail, we love because love is the ultimate commitment to God. As Saint Teresa wrote: ““Love consists, not in having stronger feelings, but in having stronger determination to set our hearts on pleasing God in everything and to do the best we can not to offend him” (The Interior Castle, “The Fourth Dwelling Places,” chapter 1, no. 7).
If we do these three things. the Psalm makes its own promises:
Trust in him, and he will act.
He will grant you your heart’s requests.
He will make justice dawn for you like the light.
We will find that committed interaction with Jesus is full of surprises. Jesus is an ongoing revelation of the goodness and mystery of God. If we trust, delight and commit, we will find that he is, in fact, keeping his promises.
Pray: “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.”
Practice: When you feel discouraged, think about what Jesus promises. Choose to hope.
Discuss: Has God ever disappointed you? If so, did he make it up to you later?