Getting In Touch With God

Let me be honest; I love the scriptures we hear this week. I have no trouble admitting that my own interest in the spiritual walk is centered on the interior life, and on the living, vibrant interface with God through prayer and worship. For others, the experience of faith is more about reaching out to neighbors in need. For me, however, the faith is about spiritual Wi-Fi; the invisible connection to the invisible network of saints, angels, and the Lord, God
himself.

For our reflection today, I’ll gloss over my favorite parts of these readings, if I can restrain myself, and dwell a bit more on the part with which I struggle.

The first reading is filled with exhortations to get in touch with God. “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near.” “…Turn to the Lord for mercy; to our God who is generous in forgiving.” Such a beautiful invitation to forsake sin, to discard our lowly sense of what would disqualify us from God’s love and embrace, and instead accept God’s surpassing understanding and prodigal willingness to forgive.

If we accept his invitation, no matter how far we may have wandered, or how long delayed we have been, we receive the whole measure of God’s love, his salvation, his blessing and his joy—this is what the Lord explains in the Gospel parable.

This is really pretty clear, and not some revolutionary idea to us, but it is, most certainly, apart from the wisdom of this present age. Many people today dismiss the idea of a God who would allow evil and violence, much less a God who would forgive those who perpetrate it. As Isaiah notes, God’s ways are not ours, but just because we don’t understand his ways doesn’t mean they are not superior.

Now for the part that I find to be more of a struggle.

In the epistle, Paul describes a sort of inner turmoil caused by the earthly dichotomy between 1) his ardor and love for God, which makes him long for heaven and eternity in God’s very presence; and 2) his concern for the Christian churches he’d fostered all around the Mediterranean Sea. Paul’s mindset should be the only reason we would prefer an earthly experience over a heavenly one. In essence, urging change in the way people treat one another (social justice) is a vain pursuit, if love of God is not our motivation. For what is gained by perfect human justice that approaches even the least of God’s mercy? It is not enough, in God’s eyes, even if all people were well, fed, and cared for.

Now, that may sound harsh to those who take a very keen interest in issues of social justice. But I make that statement not to mitigate the importance of caring for neighbor or defending the disadvantaged. Rather, justice on earth is only the beginning, according to the weight of glory God wishes to heap upon us.

Likewise, it is hypocritical to bury ourselves in mounds of spiritual books, consoling ourselves in knowledge of God as well as in knowing God, as he reveals himself graciously to us, while ignoring the cries of the lost and broken outside our door.

For Paul, it was the same love for God that drew him to long for death (so as to be joined with Christ) as caused him to literally exhaust himself in propagating faith in Jesus everywhere he went. This is a balance that I daresay very, very few attain in this life. There are many, many Saints and many can be classified by which area marked their life: Interior holiness or Fraternal concern.

We each have different gifts to offer those in need. For some of us, we can offer to others the gift of understanding—helping our neighbor to see clearly the mysteries of faith, and give them the hope that God’s love does not exclude any who seek him. For others of us, we can offer the gift of support, sharing with those who lack the material necessities of life, doing so with a heart for seeing their good, and living out for them a Christ-like example. All of us must, however, offer what we can out of love for God. That all we do in love for neighbor, we do because we were first loved by our Lord

May we learn to let the Fire of Love in our hearts be both the fuel for mission in our lives and the reward for which we impatiently long.

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