When God’s will doesn’t match up with the world’s
A Reflection for Saturday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Find today’s readings here.
“[R]eform your ways and your deeds;
listen to the voice of the LORD your God.” (Jer 26:11-16, 24)
This command from Jeremiah to the Jewish people is one we should heed daily. There are so many voices competing for our attention and obedience in matters of morality, but the only one we should obey is God’s.
The Jewish people wanted to put Jeremiah, the voice of God, to death so they would no longer hear God’s admonition. They wanted to ease their consciences by silencing Jeremiah. Are we like those who want to silence God?
For example, in the matter of legalized abortion, are we listening to the voice of God? Do we know what God, through his church, teaches about abortion? Do we understand why, even in the most difficult of circumstances, abortion cannot be the response?
How do we receive the teachings of the church? Are we angry about her constant warnings against abortion? Are we desensitized to the evil of abortion? How can we recover a sensitivity to things God finds detestable?
First, let us respond to the church’s teaching on abortion like the Jewish people did to Jeremiah’s warnings and recognize “it is in the name of the LORD, our God, that he speaks to us.”
Second, let us repent of our rejection of God. If we feel enraged by his teachings and lament the loss of a legalized evil, then something is damaged in us. Our conscience is dead or deformed. Things God finds odious seem sweet and inoffensive to us. We need divine help and healing. Go to the sacrament of reconciliation and admit we have not accepted God’s voice and that we are sorry. Ask for God’s grace and help.
Sure, following God will not always be pleasant in the moment, but we must remember our call is to follow Christ in his sufferings, death and resurrection.
Third, let us understand that heeding God’s voice is more important than being comfortable and accepted by everyone else. In Matthew 14:1-12, King Herod is preoccupied with the opinion of others. He does not initially kill St. John the Baptist because “he feared the people,” rather than offending God. As a result, Herod orders that John be beheaded on account of “his oaths and the guests who were present.”
Let Herod’s disposition and actions be a warning to us in discerning our disposition and actions. The loud, unpleasant and prolonged noise of the world may seem normative and peaceful to us, but it is not. We must practice ignoring the din of the world in order to listen to the voice of God. Let us be occupied with loving and pleasing God instead of the world.
Lastly, let us recall Matthew 5:10: “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” We are reminded of the rewards and blessings already secured for us when we hold fast to God’s teachings.
This Beatitude, as they all do, portrays the disposition and attitude we must have as Christians. Sure, following God will not always be pleasant in the moment, but we must remember our call is to follow Christ in his sufferings, death and resurrection. Let us have a sustaining hope in God’s promises of blessing us.