God spiritually analyzes us — Are we ready?

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April 6/Fourth Saturday of Lent

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O searcher of heart and soul, O just God. ~Ps 7:9

I am fortunate to live in a historic city defined by beautiful streetscapes of 18th- and 19th-century architecture. The private homes and public buildings—Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, many of them graced with stately porticos or gracious piazzas—were built centuries ago with durable materials and solid construction techniques. Having withstood natural and human disasters—earthquakes, fires, several wars—they stand as symbols of integrity and durability. Reflecting on what he called the “humane principles of good buildings,” a prominent regional architect writes, “High-quality materials are the building blocks of good buildings and great places.” And, I would add, of holy people.

Our psalmist today prompts us to see God as Examiner-in-Chief, who goes beneath the surface to see what we’re really made of. We may present a facade of success, happiness and virtue, when in fact we struggle with an addiction we can’t dislodge, a broken relationship we cannot heal, a tendency to lie that we cannot correct. No one ever posts pictures of these truths on Facebook!

But God is neither fooled nor impressed by the veneer of accomplishment. (Indeed, as the recent college admissions scandal has shown, something can look impressive on the outside and be completely fraudulent within). Boring down deep, God tests what is truly in our hearts and minds (or in literal terms, “kidneys,” which in Hebrew connote the innermost being). The word that in English is translated as “search”—a verb that in biblical usage nearly always has God as subject—connotes intense scrutiny for the purpose of determining the essential qualities of the thing scrutinized.

God is conducting a deep spiritual analysis of each of us, seeking to determine the integrity of our materials and process. Are we ready?

O God, searcher of the human heart, I pray that I may have the humility to see myself as I am and to fashion my innermost being to be in accord with your will. Amen.

For today’s readings, click here.

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Michael Bindner
2 weeks 4 days ago

It's the other way around. We are doing a spiritual analysis on God. Do we see the Passion as a torture to buy our salvation from a wrathfyl Ogre or a God reaching I or to feel the despair that we feel ourselves. Is Jesus an ubermench or a man of faith? Does our God want us to condemn the sinner or forgive her? Does God demand that we rely on ourselves or wait for Her and our fellows with hope? Did God want us to be a powerful Church with an infallible Magisterium or a humble one that lets us find God as best we can? Does She desire an ornate house with golden dishwear or one that shares the wealth? Which God do we seek in Lent? One that demands rigor or is merciful?

Christopher Minch
2 weeks 3 days ago

Interesting comment to the above piece. God gave us free will or so we believe and so I believe that God will not violate that and analyze us and help us unless we ask him/her to do so. I think God does try to help us, as in raining and providing good things for the good and the bad, but he doesn't force his love and guidance on anyone. I think the judgement of God will take place at the end of our lives but I think it will be our judgement as to whether we really want to be friend with God or continue on our own way. I think Jesus was a good and righteous man who tried to show what love and forgiveness looked like to the religious authorities of that time. It is the Resurrection that led his followers to come to believe he was more; Jesus Christ.

Jim Lein
2 weeks 3 days ago

Difficult to talk or write about God. To use a pronoun we limit God. But to repeat God over and over again seems clumsy. Maybe use G instead of pronouns. Other languages have perhaps come up with a better way than English has.

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2 weeks 3 days ago

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Tim Donovan
2 weeks 3 days ago

I do believe that God is merciful and desires the best for us. But I believe that like a loving Father, that God, like a physician, may act in ways that a child experiences as painful or difficult (such as being given oral medication that has a terrible taste, having blood drawn, having surgery for a disease that isn't understood by the child). However, the physician, who has the skills to examine us and evaluate what we need, (whether medication or surgery, etc.) performs his duty (ideally) out of concern for the child's well-being. This may sound naive, but I do believe that each one of us is a child of God. I agree with the author that God examines each of our hearts, and isn't "impressed by the veneer of accomplishment." I wad a Special Education teacher ( now retired) who instructed children who were brain damaged, some of whom also had physical disabilities or behavior disorders. Although I enjoyed my work, it could be very challenging. To use the words of tye author, I didn't always have the right "materials" necessary to provide goid care for my students. Now, that I'm approaching 60 years of age, I can be very impatient, and at times unkind. Finally, I struggle with the temptation to view pornography, and sometimes give in to the temptation. Jesus is understanding of our failings and is merciful. However, I believe that Jesus made it clear that He expects us to obey God's commandments. I also believe that Jesus gave His apostles, who were the first priests, the power to forgive sins. "When He had said this, He breathed on then and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.'" ( John 20: 22-23). As an imperfect Catholic, I do receive forgiveness abd consolation by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation from a compassionate priest each month. I understand Lent to be a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving in preparation for the death and joyful resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I do believe that, just as Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert, that Lent is a time for us to spend time to imitate Christ, by our prayers, acts of mortification, and giving in charity to people in need.

[Editors’ note: This is part of a daily Lenten reflection series. Sign up for our America Today newsletter to receive each reflection every day in your inbox.]

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