C Cycle – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 19
Wisdom 9: 13-18b
A common question posed by individuals as they begin to read the bible is the contrast between God as they see Him revealed by Jesus in the New Testament and God as they view Him in the Old Testament. The problem they have is reconciling the “wrath” of God with the loving merciful God. My answer to that is not to explain the destruction of people by God in the Old Testament but to reveal to them the actions of God as He not only promised to relent if the people called by his name repent (2 Ch. 7:14). We fail to see how mercy is constantly offered and ignored before God acts.
We fail to see and understand how God has never changed and we do not have two Gods but one consistent merciful loving God. We fail to understand we cannot sway God by our offerings and sacrifices because God knows the intentions of the heart. Where is your heart when it comes to responding to God invitation to receive what he offers us? If you listen to the gospel today, I believe your first inclination to embrace the discipleship God desires for each of us would be to say “why in the world would anyone choose become a disciple. To choose to hate father, mother, spouse, children, brothers and sisters is too costly a price to pay isn’t it?
That is why we need to read the scriptures because they help us get beyond our first inclinations and reactions to God’s word. Listen as I repeat the words of God to us in our first reading today and you may gain some new insights into God’s heart.
“Who can conceive what the Lord intends? For the deliberations of mortals is timid and unsure are our plans. For the corruptible body burdens the soul and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns and scarce do we guess the things on earth. What is within our grasp we find with difficulty.”
Let us put those words into simple terms so we can digest what God is telling us. We are more concerned and focused on the issues surrounding our lives each day. Those things are the focus of our prayers and our actions so much they prevent us from opening ourselves up to find God amid our earthly problems. We desire to but it is with difficulty we are even able to stop and listen to God at those moments.
After God describes how difficult it is for us to trust and seek the mind of God, He tells us all we seek is “within our grasp.”
It is there waiting for us to reach out for it and obtain it for ourselves. Not because we have just enrolled in the latest bible study, small group, or attended a wonderful retreat. But because God has provided us with the means to become holy, disciples who grasp the mind of God and experience his love and forgiveness.
Listen as God reveals the, not so, secret gift, He has given us to avoid the pitfalls of our corruptible bodies keeping us focused on the things of this earth. God tells us “what is within our grasp” we have trouble finding it.
What is this thing that is within our grasp and why is it the most important thing for us to understand after salvation?
Listen to God as He desperately appeals to us to pay attention to how he has provided us the means to embrace His call to us to take up the cost of following Him and to seek Him above all things. He lets us know what we seek is difficult but when things are of God there is something, we have been given that helps us discover them. “When things are of heaven who can search them out or who ever knew God’s counsel, except you have given us wisdom.”
These are the words of God revealing to us a constant mantra throughout the Old Testament and reinforced in the New Testament. What is this that has been given to us to help us get past the concerns of the mortal body? What is this equipment given to us to help us put God first in our lives, hearing His voice, listening to Him speak to our hearts moving us beyond the concerns of mother, father, spouse, children, brothers and sisters?
“…(you) have sent your holy Spirit from on high and thus the paths of those on earth are made straight.”
We, you and I, will never be able to live the life of a disciple without inviting the Holy Spirit to guide us. We will never be able to pray as Jesus prayed without the Holy Spirit. We will never be able to read the scriptures and understand them enough to apply the wisdom they contain without the Holy Spirit opening our minds and hearts to understand.
I wish I had time to reinforce these words of wisdom given to us by God by referencing the many times God has told us how important the Holy Spirit would be in transforming our hearts and minds. Jesus told us how much better it was for us for Him to go because if he did not go the Holy Spirit would not come.
I invite you today to pay attention to the work of the Spirit as ordinary bread and wine is transformed into the very presence of Jesus. Then as you receive Jesus pray for Him to send the Spirit into your hearts and flood you with God’s love and forgiveness. For Paul tells us “the love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom God has given us” (Rom. 5:5).