Monday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
At our recent small discipleship gathering, our group was discussing the challenges of understanding exactly how to live out what we read about in scripture. God gives us guidelines, but He many times leaves out the details for what that looks like in our day to day living.
The scripture verse from Micah is one of those teachings that God shares with an open ended invitation. God tells us, “what the LORD requires of you: Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.” This seems so straightforward, but exactly what does that mean? How do we live this out in our daily lives?
In both the first reading and the responsorial psalms, God informs his people that He does not desire “burnt offerings” to atone for sins. God states that each person needs to do more than say he or she belongs to Him. Unless an individual is living in God’s ways there will be no personal salvation. It is the person “that goes the right way” who will see the salvation of God.
Jesus also speaks about the need to repent in today’s gospel reading. The scribes and Pharisees want a sign, but Jesus tells them that there are plenty of signs around them that they do not see or believe. True faith is not just believing but requires repentance and a life lived accordingly.
So why does God not give us the specifics? How is each of us suppose to know what it means to do right and love goodness? God does not spell things out in detail because each of us is unique. What is the right thing for me to do is not necessarily going to be the right thing for you. God may be calling me to travel on service trips, but does not mean that is the right thing for others.
Loving goodness is something that is very non-descript, and yet I think if we focus on Jesus and His life, we can see how this might play out in our world today. If love is the basis for our actions, then each person (no matter race, creed, ethnicity, gender) would be treated with dignity and respect. Not just our individual actions, but as a community we need to establish laws and systems that protect the rights of each person, so that compassion and mercy are the foundation of how we function. Rules are important to help provide order and safety, but the ordinances need to rise from love of other not fear or hatred. As I review the current state of our nation, we have a long way to go to have a society where we all live in loving goodness.
Walking humbly with God is another invitation that we are asked to embrace. How do we do that in our everyday living? Humility is a state where you do not put yourself or your desires above the other person. To walk with God in this way requires the recognition that all we are and all we have is from God. As we recognize our complete dependence on God we then turn to Him, trust in Him, and believe that He will guide us in His ways. Prayerfully starting each day placing everything in His hands is a small way that we can walk humbly with God in our daily lives.
Another part of the reason why God does not give us specifics for our lives is because He wants to invite us into a deeper relationship with Him. In a marriage or close friendship we become more aware of the desires of the other when we spend time with that person. I believe that God calls us to know Him more deeply, so as we learn more about Him and His ways we know exactly how we can “do the right, to love goodness and to walk humbly with Him”. This invitation to seek God awaits us every minute of the day. If we open ourselves to God’s Spirit and His life within us, we will be empowered by God- and we can change the world.
“Father, Jesus shows us what it means to love goodness and walk humbly with You. Through the grace of Your Spirit, give us the wisdom, courage and love to live lives of compassion and peace. May we grow to know Your ways as we deepen our relationship with You. May all that we do give You praise and glory. We pray this through Christ, our LORD. Amen.”
- Marylynn Herchline