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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Fr. Bob Warren's Week Reflection: 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
What a wonderful gospel we have. "Come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome. I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart. Your soul will find rest for my yoke is easy and my burden light." But is it? Some might say that is not my experience. In fact, it is just the opposite.
My relationship with God right now is a little weak. If that is the case, I ask you to look at your relationship with those around you, family and friends. Your relationship has to rest on some kind of trust even in perplexing and strained times. We accept without question that our relationship with other human beings is not a contract type of thing. I will be loyal and so will you. I will be honest and so will you. I will be faithful and so will you. I will do everything I should and so will you. It just does not happen that neatly. Does it?
It does not happen that way because we know that relationships are imperfect. They are not based on guarantees, but on trust. We make room for forgiveness, reconciliation, change, growth, uncertainty, hope and, as St. Paul says, for love ‑ a love that somehow will overcome all the deficiencies. But, when it comes to our relationship with God, we often change the rules.
We often come up with a contract kind of relationship. God, I kept all the commandments, so how could you let my child get sick? I go to Mass every week and say my prayers, so how could you let my marriage disintegrate? I can understand it when people say things like that under stress. Sometimes I ask them to remember Jesus. He was faithful to God, kept all the commandments and yet was spat upon, scourged, crowned with thorns and hung on a cross to die. And this was the one about whom God said, "This is my Beloved Son".
So often our relationship with God is not of trust, but one of contract. We do not want trust, we want guarantee. We do not want acceptance, but explanation. We do not want faith, but certainty. We do not want mystery, but a signed contract. We do not treat family and friends that way. So, why do we do it to God?
People come to Church every weekend to worship and pray. Many of them would say that life is unfair ‑ my children have been a big disappointment, I have lost a spouse, I have lost a parent or I have lost my health. Is this the way God treats his friends? If that sounds like something you have said in the past, I would ask you as you get angry with God, for heavens sake, look at the crucifix. This is His Beloved Son. In the crucifix is the message that you trust. Trust the relationship as Jesus had to do. It is permissible to get angry and to doubt as Jesus did on the cross. Remember His words, "Father, Why have you forsaken me?" The resurrection of Jesus, who had His doubts, is proof that God will have the last word. St Paul said it best when he tells us, "God is love, love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres."
Years ago there was a popular song called "From a Distance". It went something like this: God is watching us, God is watching us from a distance. The music was emotionally moving, but the theology was all wrong. God does not watch us suffer from some distant shore. He has joined Himself to our human situations. Just listen to the words of Consecration that you have heard so many times ‑ This is My Body, given for you.
Fr. Robert Warren, S.A.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Robert Warren, S.A. Signature
Fr. Robert Warren, S.A.
Spiritual Director
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Franciscan Friars of the Atonement
GRAYMOOR P.O. Box 301, Garrison, NY 10524
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