Don’t Lay It On God
Thoughts on the First Readings -Joe Frankenfield
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 45:1, 4-6
One morning after Mass a young woman told me of her recent auto accident. She’d been driving to the airport to catch a flight to a friend’s. On the way she was involved in a fender bender that took several hours to deal with. When all was done she had missed her flight and couldn’t get another that day. Later that same afternoon when she was back home, her father suffered a heart attack and she was there to summon medical help. Though she had a painful whiplash and would probably have to go to court since the collision was her fault, she thought it wonderful how God had arranged her accident to make her available for tending to her father. I was tempted to ask why God hadn’t given her a flat tire or an unexpected visit from a long lost aunt instead of a car crash but I didn’t.
I doubt that the hundreds of soldiers who died so that Cyrus could conquer Babylon were as sanguine as Isaiah about God’s chosen method of freeing the Israeli exiles from captivity. In fact, since it was through a Babylonian invasion and conquest that God chose to teach Israel a lesson and then through a second war that he chose to end the Israeli exile, an objective observer might consider the entire process inelegant at best. Many Christians have developed the habit of holding God responsible for amazing events whether very bad or very good.
Within the past few weeks both ministers and politicians have told us how the recent East coast hurricane and earthquake were God’s way of expressing his distaste for our sinfulness.
When his disciples asked Jesus whose fault it was that a certain man had been born blind, he answered that it was no one’s fault. It was rather, he said, an opportunity for people of faith – he himself in this instance – to demonstrate God’s power and goodness by coming to the blind man’s aid. He then proceeded to cure the man. Stop trying to read God’s mind and be the touch of God’s love was his response to their concerns. It was the same response he gave over and over again.
After two millennia one would think we’d have gotten the idea.