God Is at Our Side

October 4, 2015: 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Genesis 2:18-24
Psalms 128:1-6
Hebrews 2:9-11
Mark 10:2-16

Two thousand years ago, before the first Christmas, most religions were designed to keep the gods at a safe distance. In those times, pagan religions conceived of the gods as powerful, unpredictable, and dangerous. Your best bet was to lay low and hope the gods didn’t notice you, because if they did, they would invariably cause trouble.

But when Jesus Christ came to earth, He revealed to us the truth about God. And the truth is that God is not some kind of divine ogre; the truth is that God is on our side. He is our Father. He created us, redeemed us, and is lovingly interested in everything we do.

Today’s Second Reading reminds us of the undeniable proof that this is the case: the incarnation, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God himself, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, chose to become man in the womb of the Virgin Mary. He chose to become our brother and to share in the sufferings that we all experience in this fallen world. He chose to walk by our sides.

Look for example at the conversation He has with the Pharisees in today’s Gospel passage. He patiently discusses with them a point of theology. He lowers himself to their level, trying to get them to understand God’s plan for their lives, for marriage, for the family. What humility! What goodness He shows in giving those hypocrites so much attention!

Jesus doesn’t come into our world to make our lives miserable, to cause us trouble, to condemn us.

He comes to save us, to offer us His friendship, a friendship that will give us hope, wisdom, mercy, joy, and the key to everlasting life.

That’s the kind of God we have gathered today to worship; that’s the kind of Lord we follow.

This burning desire of our Lord to walk by our sides, to be involved in our lives, is something that is reflected especially well in the lives of the saints.

St Faustina Kowalska, for example, received a series of private revelations from our Lord, who constantly spoke to her of his eager desire to shower mercy on the lives of sinners. St Faustina lived in Poland between World War I and World War II. After joining a convent, she began to experience these private revelations, which gave rise to devotion to the Divine Mercy. Now, less than a hundred years later, the entire Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Divine Mercy on the Second Sunday of Easter Season. And the whole world is also familiar with the image that Our Lord asked St Faustina to have made. The Divine Mercy image shows Jesus dressed in a white robe, stepping forward, with rays of white and red light shining brightly out of His heart. That image is a symbol of God’s desire to fill our lives with His grace and love, with His mercy. It’s a desire that is based solely on His goodness, on His unconditional dedication to our happiness. That’s what “mercy” means. It means that God wants to take our misery (our weakness, neediness, and sinfulness) and absorb it into His own heart, where He can heal it.

Many times our Lord explained this to St Faustina, and she wrote down His words in her diary. Here is one of those entries): (1073)… [St Faustina was praying, and she described her experience:] …My soul was flooded with joy beyond understanding, and the Lord gave me to experience the whole ocean and abyss of His fathomless mercy. Oh, if only souls would want to understand how much God loves them! All comparisons, even if they were the most tender and the most vehement, are but a mere shadow when set against the reality. When I was united to the Lord, I came to know how many souls are glorifying God’s mercy. (1074) When I went for adoration, I heard these words [from Jesus]: My beloved daughter, write down these words… Tell the world about My mercy and My love. The flames of mercy are burning me. I desire to pour them out upon human souls. Oh, what pain they cause Me when they do not want to accept them!

That’s the kind of Lord we have to come to worship today: a God who longs to stay at our side.

God wants to walk at our sides, to be close to us as we journey through life, guiding, inspiring, teaching, and strengthening us.

He wants to be a kind of personal trainer for each one of us, leading us towards spiritual health and maturity.

This is what God wants to be for us, but how can we allow it to happen?

It is true that we do not have Jesus with us in the same way that Mary and the Apostles did — we can’t hear His footsteps beside us as we walk down the street. But in His goodness and wisdom, He has found a way to continue to abide with us: He lives in our midst, in our neighborhoods, on our streets, through the Eucharist. At every Mass, Christ becomes truly present in the Host: body, blood, soul, and divinity. When we receive Holy Communion, we really are receiving a transfusion of God’s own life into our weak and wounded souls. And then, after Mass, He continues to stay with us. That’s what the Tabernacle is for. We reserve the consecrated hosts in the Tabernacle precisely because Jesus wants to stay with us, to stay at our sides, so that at any time we can come here and sit with Him. He is here for us, to be our light and our life, as the sanctuary lamp reminds us . If we stay close to the Eucharist, through frequent communion and periodic visits to the Eucharist, we will give Him the chance He needs to walk by our sides and fill us with His courage, wisdom, and peace.

As He renews his commitment to us during this Mass, let’s thank Him for the great gift of the Eucharist, and let’s promise that this week, starting today, we will use it well.

One Response to “God Is at Our Side”

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