for Sunday, September 4, 2016
Who can conceive what the Lord intends? - from the Book of Wisdom and from the first reading today. Today's readings remind us that none of us can know the Lord's ways nor His particular intentions. We all know that the Lord intends good, but when we look at particular situations, we have to trust that God is seeking our good and the good of others in all that happens.
The challenge is to accept that God's will upon earth is tightly bound up with our wills and with the freedom that He has given us. God's will is always for our good but our will is not always for our good nor for the good of others. And there are processes that happen in the world simply because of the freedom that God has given His world in creating it.
The second reading is from the Letter to Philemon, who is a Christian friend of his. The slave of Philemon, Onesimus, has become a Christian and Paul sends him back with the recommendation that Philemon treat him as equal to Paul. This is one way of speaking about slavery. Paul never talks about ending slavery but invites this slave holder to treat his slave as he treats his free friends. Again, Paul is not speaking about God's will in all of this. Paul is not giving a particular teaching. Rather, Paul is speaking common sense: if you and your slave are both Christians, then you must begin to treat your slave as an equal! Who can conceive what the Lord intends?
And then the Gospel today, from the Gospel of Saint Luke, gives us this advice: If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Who can understand the mind of God? No one thought that God would come as a human and then give His own life - and worse yet, ask that of us! Who can conceive what the Lord intends?
You and I must choose God first in our lives. God is more important than any human relationship! Today the modern culture no longer believes this. Instead God is conceived by modern culture as simply accepting what the majority want us to believe. Yet the Word of God, the Sacred Scriptures, are not realities that can be voted out of existence, nor are they teachings that we can change to fit what we want!
We are asked to make God more important than any human relationship and then also be willing to give up our lives for Him. We must daily accept and even embrace the sufferings that come upon us because we try to follow Jesus. Lord, have mercy! Who can conceive what the Lord intends?
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Wisdom 9.13-18
Second Reading: Philemon 1.9b-10, 12-17
Gospel: Luke 14.25-33
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: