ORDINARY 30 (A)
You shall love the Lord your God…. – Mt.22:37
There is a famous bit of graffiti in a New York subway station at , which I have seen with my own eyes, that reads, “God is dead. – Nietzsche [a 19th century German philosopher]. Beneath it, scribbled in a different hand, one finds, “Nietzsche is dead. – God.” Who is the Lord our God? We ordinary folk are apt to agree with Isaiah when he said, “Truly you are a God who hides Himself.” Thus the prophet affirms the reality that God reveals Himself to us in strange & unexpected ways.
There are times when we agonize over our inability to comprehend life fully much less God. We want to hang onto belief, yet still we question, search, look for answers that do not come. We rattle on this way through the drama of life & then Jesus makes His entrance to remind us, to teach us, to assure us, to promise us that God, above all others, knows how we feel. In times of our own spiritual anguish, we should remember that we are in good company. The sincere quest for God is often carried forward in the midst of confusion & doubt. We should remember that not only were the greatest saints & prophets subject to these crises, they were noted for them. Like ourselves, they often limited their search for God to the safety & comfort of familiar surroundings. When God did not appear according to their preconceived notions, they felt lost, abandoned, bitter & resentful.
The prophet Jeremiah has given us a vivid account of his “crisis of faith”: “You duped me, O lord … The word of the Lord has brought me derision & reproach all the day … Cursed be the day on which I was born!” (Jer. 20: 7 – 8, 14). The real sin against God is not anger, but indifference. Often it is through the agonizing search that we experience the Living God, because He is most present to us in those awful moments when we need Him most. St. John of the Cross called such moments “the dark night of the soul.”
After a really intense experience of such a moment, St. John of the Cross later came to the realization that God had been present with him more during that time than He had been at other, more pleasant times. If our faith is feeble & our obedience is lukewarm, if we slip into indifference, the fault is not with the Lord but with ourselves. There is an oriental story that goes like this:
Once upon a time there were four men on a trip through the woods. Suddenly, they came upon a high wall. Intrigued, they fashioned a ladder in order to see what was on the other side. The first man to reach the top cried out with delight at the vision below, & immediately plunged in. The second man did the same; & the third. Finally, the fourth man looked down on the scene: lush, green gardens as far as the eye could carry; beautiful trees bearing every sort of delectable fruit. Never before had he seen such a sight. Like the others, he was tempted to jump right in. But as he paused for a moment to think of his family & friends, he decided to resist the temptation. Then he rushed down the ladder & set out to preach the glad tidings of the beautiful garden to others.
Each of the first three men had seen a new land of wonderful promise & decided to keep it to himself. The fourth hastened to share it. The surest way of enriching our insight into the question “Who is the Lord our God,” is to share the little visions of God we have already seen with others. Take the love He has given to you & share it with others. It is not possible to love without desiring to give something of what we find so precious to others. Then our Lord will give you more, & you will know Him more – for He is Love. AMEN!