readings for Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time: July 12th, 2016
The Holy Gospel According to Saint Matthew 11:20-24
When we are surrounded by evil our fearful instinct is often to close in on ourselves. After the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001, all of the gas stations closed and even the man I worked for sent us home out of fear that other things would happen. Here the Israelites in the first reading were surrounded by their worst and strongest enemies and they trembled and quaked. Just recently our country has experienced another set of crimes and people have reacted with fear, telling their kids to stop going around cops out of fear of both the cops and those who would hurt them. Drawing in like a turtle to protect our own seems to be the default for humanity.
The Psalm reminds us though that if God is the one building the city then there is no need to fear. That when He is with us we are protected by His strong right arm. When we trust in God we don't close in on our selves, we might proceed with caution but we proceed with confidence in knowing that man can never do anything to our immortal soul. We reach out with love to both those who are hurting enough to harm the ones they fear are the enemy, and those who are completely innocent and caught in the middle of a struggle they did not start. It requires though that God be the one in control.
In this message there is a sense that we as a nation must return to God. We have removed prayer from our schools. Taken down any religious imagery that might 'offend' someone. Relegated religion to the inner corners of the Sanctuaries behind closed doors and told God He is a thing that only need be addressed on Sunday. In doing so we have made love, the primary focus of the Christian ideal, something that also hides behind those doors. It is in returning to God that we as a nation can bring that love back out of those doors and into the very hearts of those who need it the most.
Change, though, begins in me. The Scriptures tell us that if the builders labor to build the temple, then in vain do it's builders labor. After coming back from this silent retreat, even knowing the things I know, I've been trying to rebuild myself into the man I felt God calling me to be on the retreat. I got very frustrated yesterday when I realized that I was failing to do just that. It's because I need Him to do it with me. I do have to work on it, I have to try.. but over all I must do it in conjunction with Him, not by myself, and not Him alone. Not because He needs me to do anything, but because that is how He chose to do things... with us and through us. So we start with that, man building with God, building himself into the man God has made Him to be. Then out into the world we go living the life He has designed us for that others might also be drawn to Him.
His servant and yours,
"He must increase, I must decrease."