Thoughts on the First Readings -Joe Frankenfield
9th Sunday in Ordinary Time
I once had a discussion with a parishioner that concluded with his statement that he didn’t know why, or even if, he believed in God. Maybe he just kept on being religious because, like his parents, it was what he did. Coming to church was calming and restful as well as a chance to see friends that he didn’t see throughout the week. “Maybe I do believe in God but I believe in an expanding universe too and, to be honest, both have about the same influence on my everyday life. I don’t really know,” he said, in a confused voice as he left my office, “I suppose I ought to decide.
Until recent centuries people might argue over how to honor God or which God to honor but almost never did it occur to them to deny that there was a God to honor. Today many people, especially in the “western” nations, see no need to believe in any God and those who do believe often wonder whether it really makes any difference.
Long before Jesus, Jews realized that believing in and honoring God was no guarantee of success or security in life. In fact, they knew that it often brought inconvenience and pain.
The earliest Christians understood Jesus’ sufferings simply as the usual lot of a good and just man speaking God’s will [Luke 13:34]. So, even though some still try to convince us that honoring God insures prosperity, a little observational acumen ends that illusion. No, belief, love and union with God have to be rooted in something other than security and prosperity. But what?
Lent begins soon. It would be good to be able to join ourselves to Jesus and one another in the Easter Eucharist knowing clearly why we want to be there. We have seven weeks to ask ourselves good, blunt questions. Frank discussion and prayer about faith – and love – is liberating and rejuvenating.