Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Do you ever wonder why certain things happen? I believe completely in a God who is all love, so when I hear and see something that seems horrific- a tsunami that kills thousands of people, a bomb that explodes in a crowded marketplace, an accident where an innocent bystander is killed- whether one or many people are involved- I wonder why would God allow this to happen. Both readings today made me stop and think about God and His role in our world. After some reflection, I realize that my tiny mind can never fully understand or appreciate God’s love and how that is expressed even in the messiness of this world.
In the first reading, we hear the story of Cain and Abel. Both men bring their offerings to God, but God looks with favor on Abel’s “best firstlings of his flock”, but does not look with favor on the offering of the “fruit of the soil” that Cain brings to the Lord. As I read this passage I thought, “What would make God not find favor with the gift that Cain brought to Him? What about Cain’s gift was not worthy of God’s acceptance?” The story does not give the answer as to why God responded in this way, but this judgment leads Cain to resent and eventually kill Abel. As I ponder this situation, I realize that God is all-knowing and all-loving. Perhaps Cain did not bring the offering with a grateful heart? Or maybe he withheld some of the gift because of not trusting in God’s fidelity. Whatever the case, God’s insights are trustworthy, and Cain cannot accept God’s response. Despite Cain’s anger and his murder of his brother, God still gives Cain protection and assurance that God is still in charge, when he promises Cain protection from others. Even in the midst of this tragedy, God’s love shines through. As a caring Father, He provides guidance and tries to lead Cain to greater faith in Him- but Cain is not able to make that step of faith. How often do things happen in our lives that seem unfair? This makes me pause to consider that during these times maybe the hand of God is trying to provide guidance to help me grow deeper in my trust of His love. I need to ask myself, “Can I see this situation as a divine expression, and can I choose to faithfully believe in His mercy?”
In the gospel, the Pharisees are demanding a sign from Jesus. Jesus responds with great exasperation and tells them that no sign will be given. He then walks away from them and leaves them behind. Again, I stop and wonder, “Why would Jesus not want to share God’s good news by giving these people a sign?” These are the very people that may have the power to protect him or kill him in the future. Jesus can see into their minds and hearts. Maybe He recognizes that they are not seeking truth but they are seeking judgment. They may be more concerned that Jesus is trying to change their laws and therefore the power they hold. Since Jesus has the mind of God, maybe He can see that a sign would not bring an increase in faith, but only create more dissension. It may be hard for me to understand, but Jesus loves the Pharisees, and He therefore responds to them in a way that is most helpful to them, even though it does not seem that way to us.
God is not limited by time, space, or any other dimensions. Because God knows the past, present and future, He is able to understand where each moment is in the history of our world and our lives. This should give us a sense of peace knowing that despite what we might experience as situations where we think that God is not present- He is! If we can trust in the midst of the challenges, during the times we may feel ignored by God, or in times when we want something so badly and we do not get what we think is best- this faith is the sign of a true disciple. When we can believe that God’s mind is beyond our limits and believe that HIs love is equally immeasurable, then we can go forward into the world believing, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” (Julian Norwich)
Loving Father, You sent Jesus as a sign of Your great love for us. With the grace of Your Spirit, help us to trust in this love even in the times when it is difficult to recognize your presence. May we grow in faith and give you glory in all that we say and do. We pray this through Christ our LORD. Amen.
- Marylynn Herchline