A consistent theme of the Bible is that God is faithful – no matter what!
In the Bible, God often speaks to people in dreams. In Genesis 28:10-22a, we read about one of Jacob’s dreams. In it he finds the Lord standing beside him and saying, “I, the Lord, am the God of your forefather Abraham and the God of Isaac … Know that I am with you; I will protect you wherever you go …I will never leave you.” What a great consolation! God is with us – always! And the God who is with us is the God who loves us unconditionally, even when we do not love ourselves.
Each day God calls us to tap our potential and to become our best selves. God gives us all of the grace that we need to resist sin and to grow in virtue. God’s love is freely given, but we have to be receptive to God’s love. We have a degree of free will and can make choices in life: good choices; bad choices. And we have to live with the consequences of our choices. Having said that, God is always reaching out to us to embrace us in God’s love. The promise given to Jacob and his descendants is our promise: “I will never leave you!”
One of my former students, a really fine man, was brought up as a practicing Christian. Today, he puts Jesus on a par with many of the worlds great men and women. Jesus has no particular significance beyond being a profound wisdom figure. Sadly, Jesus is no longer Lord and Savior for him.
You and I know better. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life for us. There is no other name by which we are saved. Today’s Gospel, Matthew 17:1-9, the Transfiguration story, has Jesus taking Peter, James and John up a high mountain. There He is transfigured before them. In the midst of this phenomenon, “…a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased: listen to Him!‘”
Jesus is Our Lord and Savior. There is no other. May we listen to Him. He has the words of everlasting life.
In today’s Gospel, Matthew 13:54-58, Jesus visits His home town and experiences rejection by his old neighbors ….. ” and they took offense at Him.” And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.”
A contemporary version might be: “A good, believing, practicing, convinced Christian may well experience rejection by family and friends for witnessing to Jesus.” Our sophisticated, secular society takes offense at those who speak the Truth! … Jesus is the Truth.
We live in a society whose motto seems to be, “if it feels good, do it.” Objective norms seem to be trivialized if not totally discarded. We live with a dictatorship of relativism. The truth; however, is that there are objective norms: The Ten Commandments; The teachings of Jesus especially as exemplified in The Sermon on the Mount and moral precepts which flow from them. And there are consequences for our actions if we choose to disregard them.
In today’s Gospel, Matthew 13:47-53, Jesus says, “The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
There are consequences for our actions: good and bad. If we choose to live rightly and seek forgiveness for our sins, we will be put into buckets that is we will be welcomed into the Kingdom of heaven. If we choose to be defiant and do our own will, we will be thrown into the fiery furnace where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. The choice is ours to make and the consequences are a result of our choices..
Jesus teaches that the Kingdom of heaven or Reign of God is already here among us.
Reflect on today’s Gospel, Matthew 13:44-46,
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has an buys that field. Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”
The Kingdom of God is not to be found out there somewhere but right here where we are – in the midst of our daily lives! Each one of us could add to what Matthew has written, drawing from our own experience. It might go like this
“The Kingdom of God is like a couple who prayed for children for many years and then found themselves with child. They then threw a party and invited family and friends to celebrate with them. Again the Kingdom of Heaven is like a young person searching for the right career. When finding it in another city, she leaves behind her previous life and moves on to this new challenge.
Life is always unfolding. The Kingdom of God is to be found in the unfolding. We have but to approach the unfolding with the eyes of faith. Even in painful and tragic situations, the Kingdom of heaven is to be found. Oftentimes, we have to be patient.