Jakarta, 24 July 2014
A Christian Pilgrim
GOD WANTS YOUR HEART, NOT JUST YOUR SACRIFICES [MICAH 6:1-4,6-8]
Through the prophet Micah, God let it be known that He had a bone to pick with His people. The situation was so serious that He called on the mountains and the foundations of the earth as witnesses. “O My people, what have I done to you? In what have I wearied you? Answer Me!” (Micah 6:3). YHWH was distressed by the way His people clung to the rituals and sacrifices of the law, all the while ignoring the cry of the poor and needy.
Perhaps some of the people were puzzled by God’s accusation of negligence – “We’ve been offering God His sacrifices, haven’t we? What more does He want?” But Micah explained that God wasn’t mainly interested in sacrifices. He wanted them to demonstrate their love by living justly, kindly, and humbly (Micah 6:8).
Justice, kindness, humility – that doesn’t sound so difficult, does it? Try it for a little while. Tell yourself that from this moment on you will respond to each situation today in a just, kind, and humble manner. It’s amazing how difficult it really is!
Here’s the good news: God never intended for us to love and serve Him by our own strength. From the moment He breathed life into us, He has wanted to live in us by His Spirit and give us the grace to say yes to Him in every situation. Thanks to Jesus’ victory on the cross, the Holy Spirit has been given to all who believc. He is not just a reserve tank for us to switch on when we reach the end of our resources. Rather, the Spirit wants to be the very source and power of our lives.
Let’s (you and I) try an experiment this week. In each situation we face, turn to the Holy Spirit. Let’s ask Him to guide us toward the right choice, to help us speak the right words. Let Him show us the path of justice, kindness, and humility in that situation, We will still have various difficulties to work through, but we will surely find ourselves becoming more peaceful and spiritually alert. Remember: God wants our hearts, not just our sacrifices.
Jakarta, 21 July 2014
A Christian Pilgrim
WE MUST REFRAIN FROM DISMISSING OTHERS
(A biblical reflection on the 16th Ordinary Sunday, 20 July 2014)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 13:24-30 (long version: Matthew 13:24-43)
First Reading: Wisdom 12:13,16-19; Psalms: Psalm 86:5-6,9-10,15-16; Second Reading: Romans 8:26-27
The Scripture Text
Another parable He put before them, saying, “The Kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds? He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?” But he said, ‘No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” (Matthew 13:24-30 RSV)
How do you treat other people when they fall short of your expectations? Do you find yourself turning against them – maybe in your mind and heart, if not outwardly? It’s a tempting reaction but not one that Jesus recommended. In fact, His parable of the weeds among the wheat tells us not to write anyone off as hopeless. Just as the householder refrained from having the weeds pulled up for fear of uprooting the wheat (Matthew 13:29), we must refrain from dismissing others, in effect throwing out the “wheat” in their lives along with whatever we perceive the “weeds” to be.
Who are the “weedy” ones in your life – those you have given up on, those you don’t treat so well because they have pulled away from God? Look closely at your list and ask yourself whether perhaps your judgments might be contributing in some way to their bondage. Is it possible that you have a beam in your eye, something that prevents you from seeing the beauty and promise – the wheat among the weeds – within them? Even in their sin, God sees their potential and gives them opportunities to realize it through the power of His Son. He invites you to take on this attitude, too.
Today at Mass, take some time to reflect on God’ invitation to patience. Let the readings show you God’s heart and help you embrace that heart for yourself: “Although You are sovereign in strength, You judge with mildness, and with great forbearance You govern us. … You have taught Your people that the righteous must be kind” (Wisdom 12:18-19). “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us” (Romans 8:26). Having experienced God’s mercy in your own life – and who hasn’t? – you can be patient with the imperfections of others, with the Spirit’s help. And amazingly, the more you learn to see people through the eyes of Jesus, the more you will draw them to Him. They will change. So will you.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for having written some people off as beyond help. Knowing Your love and patience toward me, I am compelled to pray that every “hopeless case” will make it into Your Kingdom. I pray for an abundant harvest of the finest wheat. Amen.
Jakarta, 18 July 2014
A Christian Pilgrim