Devotional Thought of the Day:
16 Some Pharisees and Sadducees who came to Jesus wanted to trap him, so they asked him to perform a miracle for them, to show that God approved of him. 2But Jesus answered, “When the sun is setting, you say, ‘We are going to have fine weather, because the sky is red.’ 3And early in the morning you say, ‘It is going to rain, because the sky is red and dark.’ You can predict the weather by looking at the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs concerning these times!n 4How evil and godless are the people of this day! You ask me for a miracle? No! The only miracle you will be given is the miracle of Jonah.”
So he left them and went away. Matt 16:1-4 TEV
535 Communion, union, communication, intimacy: Word, bread, love. (1)
I am struggling with my sermon manuscript this morning.
The struggle is not with the text, it is glorious, it can, and it will preach Christ.
My problem is with my friends acting like the Houses of the Capulets and Montagues. No, I must be honest, there is a growing desire to call them out and curse them both as Shakespeare wrote, “a pox on both your houses!” There is my problem, the enormous weight that causes my writer’s block.
I am not sure I can get these friends, the fellow citizens to stop attacking each other, to lower the defenses enough to look each other in the eyes and see each other’s struggles and brokenness, and to limp together to an altar and pray for each other. And as I receive emails, tweets, and read posts, I am reaching that point where I question whether I want to anymore.
There is a temptation to wipe the dust off my feet, to walk away and leave people pointing at each other, yelling at the top of their lungs the very same insults, the very same attacks, crying as they are assaulted by the same fears and anxieties.
Though I am not trying to trap Jesus, (or am I? In truth, today, I do not know.) I want Jesus to stop this; I want the miracle that will create the peace that will enable people to stop attacking each other, to know the mercy that will allow them to lower their defenses, to remember that we have been given the role of servants, to facilitate reconciliation. To allow people on both sides of the issue to be still, and know that God is still God. That He is our refuge and strength.
But how do we get people to lay aside their sin, the idols they have manufactured to provide the answers they desire? How do we get them to consider there are hopes greater than what they expect, that what they have counted on to be the norm? Surely I can’t out yell the masses that are yelling at each other.
I sometimes joke that St Josemaria Escriva is my patron saint, simply because I resonate with what he writes at a level that is deeper than just my poor intellect. The words in blue above were probably written during the Spanish Civil War, a time of unrest that puts the hatred espoused on Social Media in perspective. I imagine he grieved for his nation as he saw them killing each other, as a house divided fell apart as the bodies that composed it fell to the ground.
His answer is my answer, the place I must run to find hope, and find the strength to offer hope. A sacramental, incarnational, miraculous answer found in God’s presence. Fount at the cross, found as well in those things that unite us to the cross – the sacraments through which the word assures us of God’s grace, His mercy and peace.
As God unites us to Himself, as He invites us to feast, as He communicates with us, as the Word comes and dwells among us, as we see and declare His glory.
As we know, love.
As much as I want my friends, to love each other, the miracle happens in Christ, not by logic. They are delivered from their fears and frustrations, their shattered idols and broken hopes as Christ is revealed. As they see Him, crucified to bear it all, to bring them healing from it all.
Sometimes the answer isn’t found in engaging in the mess, or getting depressed and angry as I grieve over it.
Sometimes the answer, the hope is found in seeking Christ, in letting His presence assure and comfort me, reminding me that all things will work for good and that nothing can separate us from His love.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Location 1295). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
15 When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha. 16 “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” 17 Then Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!” The LORD opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.
2 Kings 6:15-17 (NLT)
482 What does it matter if the whole world with all its power is against you? Forward! Repeat the words of the psalm: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? … Si consistant adversum me castra, non timebit cor meum—“If armies in camp should stand together against me, my heart shall not fear.”
If I were to believe everything said about each of the candidates, I would think that no matter who is the next President of the United States, we would be better off with a global flood, or perhaps that the full tribulation had come into effect.
The words of Elisha’s servant would certainly be mine, as fear and anxiety overtook me. “Lord, what are we going to do now?” How will we survive this? Every worst case scenario will flash before our eyes, as we expect America to sink in a moral crisis unheard of since.. well at least the 1960’s – and maybe all the way back to the 1890’s! (Or ancient Rome)
Some fear one winning, others fear the opponent dominating. Some and anxious because they don’t want either to win! No matter who, there will be people displeased and distraught, worried about the world changing, even fearing it ending.
What we need is the same thing the servant needed, to have our eyes opened to the reality that this world is still part of God’s kingdom. That the richness of His promise of eternity and His presence with us in this life is more than our fears.
Christ is with us.
Think about that….
No, I mean really think about it, let your heart and mind dwell in the presence of Christ here, in your presence right now. Remember the moment you communed that you shared His Body and Blood and experienced for a moment, the wonder and awe that comes when He is revealed.
This experience, this knowledge, this awareness that God is for us, is what has sustained people of God for millennia. That has enabled them to know peace in dictatorships and revolutions, in times of global war, and famine. They have known that peace even as their brothers and sisters are martyred, even as they are martyred.
It is the one constant hope we have, in a broken, hurting, rebellious world. Knowing this, we are confident not only that the world’s sin cannot separate us from God, but we are reminded that our own cannot either. Including the anxiety and doubt, we have that God is still in charge, working everything our for good for those who love Him.
And it is more than enough to sustain us at this time.
Lord, have mercy on us and help us to see you, incarnate, present, benevolent and in control. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1179-1181). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.