Sunday October 18, 2020
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Dear Believers in the Christ,
In today’s first reading from Mass, Isaiah 45: 1, 4-6, we hear, “I am the Lord and there is no other, there is no God besides me.
I love this simple reminder. Our Christian identity flows from the gift of our baptism. We are born again in God and sustained in the Holy Spirit. We may live, especially in uncertain times, clinging to many other things we think may replace this identity. For example, we often use cultural power to replace God, that is money, authority, politics, greed, lust, ambition, education and our own opinions.
This sense of power controls our opinions about how other people should live. We may look to the poor and want them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get a job in order to justify their existence. This is using power over others instead of using our gifts and talents to better understand our neighbors and their suffering. We can make our own lives greater than God’s life. We can turn our cultural power into a god. We can even make our opinions of other people real truths. These opinions can then lead to condemning people, especially those who are different from ourselves.
This text from Isaiah not only tells us who God is but reminds us that our false gods are not our real source of life and love. In these months of pandemic, we all have to be careful not to create new gods. We may think our political opinions are a solid identity upon which to build a life. We may take great delight when some people win, and some people lose. We may be waiting for a vaccine god, so to put our future in its hands. We may fight for the common good and believe that our fights are gospel truth. We may even create gods out of our fear, our distress and our economic uncertainty. We can make a god out of just about anything, even our education or our reputation or our employment.
In these days of great emotional stress and strain on family life and personal uncertainty, we settle into the mystery of God. I invite you to learn from these days of pandemic, to sort through your life and to not settle for hopelessness. Only God provides genuine hope for our future. There is no other god we can muster that will sustain us and give us direction in our lives of worry. God is here to offer us real grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
One of the beautiful outcomes of pandemic and the incredible natural disasters we face is that we need God. It is alright for our lives to need something greater than our own lives. We need love, mercy and hope. In fact, this is the spiritual life, to finally come to the conclusion that we need God. In such suffering, we have options, we can abandon God altogether, or finally surrender our own personal power to God who has nourished us to this point in life.
Some people view our younger generation as having given up on God. I don’t really think so. I think they have given up on the rest of us who have not come to the conclusion that we need a spiritual power. The Christian institutions may not look the same in future, but I believe we are going through a great time of transformation and renewal. The younger generation will lead us and lead us to live a greater spiritual life. Young people are calling the rest of us into lives of genuineness and living the truth of what we claim to believe.
I hold on to the Real Presence of Christ Jesus to lead us into lives of compassion, tenderness and forgiveness. Only God’s fidelity can soften hearts and heal our mistakes. Only God who has begun this great work in us will bring it to completion. I look forward to the future with great hope, when we can finally turn toward the One who created us, the One who loves us, the One who spurs us forward to bear witness to the world that love is real.
“I am the Lord and there is no other, there is no God besides me.”
God give you peace,