Pastors Corner: How much do we trust God?
March 27, 2020
In the Catholic faith tradition, the readings for this Sunday, March 29, are Ezekiel 37:12-14, Romans 8:8-11 and the Gospel of John 11:1-45.
The reading from Ezekiel is the prophesy that God tells Ezekiel to make to the people saying that their graves will be opened and they will be brought back to the land of Israel and that they will know that the Lord is their God. The people are also told that God will put his Spirit in them that they may live in relationship with God.
The reading from Romans has the apostle Paul telling the Romans that those who choose to live in the flesh cannot please God, but that they must choose to have Christ dwell in them and that if they choose Christ his Spirit will live in them. This Holy Spirit will then give life to their mortal bodies — forever.
The reading from the Gospel of John is the story of the resuscitation of Lazarus and the conversations that Jesus has with Mary, Martha and his disciples.
If we have been practicing our faith for very long at all, we have heard the stories of Ezekiel and Lazarus several times. We might even say that there is nothing more we can learn from these stories that will benefit us very much. As far as the letter to the Romans — of course we have asked Christ to dwell in us and we know that the Holy Spirit will give life to our mortal bodies forever. Yep, been there, done that. At the risk of dating myself — as Paul Harvey would say, “Now for the rest of the story.”
We call the Bible a living document — The Living Word of God — and it continues to speak to us in new and very relevant ways. Having said this, it is important for us to realize that the divine revelation from Scripture does not change. What is more important is that as the Holy Spirit mentioned above works in us through our life experience and study, as a result we are enabled to understand more fully the Word of God proclaimed to us. Considering all that is going on in the world at this time this fact should give us much hope.
Yesterday, I heard a person say that the future of our country would be lost if we did not end this social distancing and resume our normal way of doing business, that our fortunes, everything we have worked for, would be lost. This person said that the fortunes being lost right now was destroying our future and that we should not be so concerned about the loss of life and more concerned about the loss of our economy. As I listened, I couldn’t help but think of Paul’s letter to the Romans, when he tells them that those who choose to live in the flesh cannot please God. When the spirit of God dwells in us we choose life and the life of all of God’s people. If we choose to end the restrictions necessary to save lives just so we can have a vibrant economy, we will indeed be a people choosing to live in the flesh and God’s spirit will be far from us.
In the gospel reading about Lazarus, the disciples, Martha and Mary all question the way Jesus is responding to Lazarus’s illness and death. They do not understand that the goal was to lead people to belief in Jesus and a saving relationship with God. I wonder if that could be at the center of all our life experiences? Especially what we are going through now with this pandemic.
Over the years, there have been many events that have caused me to be fearful. There have been many times that I have questioned God’s way of allowing things to take place. Each time the fear has been overcome by God’s grace and God’s wisdom has been revealed. How much do we trust God? Perhaps this last question could be answered by the amount of toilet paper we may have stored up over the last few weeks.
Jesus took human form for two reasons. One was to bring us salvation; this is something that we cannot earn, we can only choose to enter it by asking Jesus to live in us and work through us. The other reason he came was to show us how to live in loving relationship with God and one another amid a broken humanity.
While Jesus was here, he told us the greatest commandment was to love God with all our being and to love our neighbor as ourselves. All his actions lead to healing of those around him either physically or spiritually. Those that were not healed by Jesus in one of these ways were the same ones who called for his crucifixion.
We have before us currently an opportunity to make the kingdom of God present and real. All our actions at this time should be aimed at growing in our relationship with God and helping one another survive and even thrive during this pandemic. I believe it is alright to question God about what is going on, but we also must open our ears and our hearts to God’s wisdom and Holy Spirit so we might live God’s will not ours.
God is Good all the time.
Deacon Tim Maroney
St. Jude Thaddeus Church