Gospel Reflection for Sunday the 18th of July 2021
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Faith asks us to make a commitment to God. For us that have made that commitment or are trying to make it we know that it is not always easy to stay steady on the road of commitment. Commitment requires effort but in reality it requires effort to hold onto faith. We know or are coming to realise that this unseen God of ours is not like a genie in a bottle that we rub and he grants our wishes. No, faith is a little bit more involved than that, the still waters run deep!
Commitment involves trust and learning to trust in God can be the whole challenge of a lifetime. Lots of things can cause people to drift away from God but a lack of trust can be a big part of it. People can have such heavy burdens in life, different circumstances that come their way that pull and drag their attention away from prayer and faith and when they don’t have a trust that draws them back they can drift away. People can also have a really weak sense of God in their lives and start to thing that everything depends on themselves, they don’t need to trust God. Trust in God in either of these situations can seem to be a pointless exercise, because God seems to do little for them. A person can set out on their own quest, independent of God.
A committed Christian believes truly that the answer to all life’s questions is found in the person of Christ. Whether it be a question of happiness or a question of suffering. And when a committed Christian decides to trust this is true, that the Gospel is real and build their life around such a belief they can and will get a lot of the answers they are looking for.
It seems so easy doesn’t it, just trust in God! However it is not that simple. Why? Because our trust in God has to be not of a small but of a gigantic proportion and it must be sincere and pure. This is the great challenge of faith. If we want answers and happiness from God we cannot go to him with a selfish intention, treating him as the genie in a bottle as I said, we have to be prepared for whatever answer he gives us. To trust whatever he decides to give us. Only when we are ready to accept that, can we find the right path with God. As Jesus himself said if it were a wide and easy path many would follow it.
For a lot of people this aspect of faith is really the most challenging part. It is a beginners stage of faith that they cannot get past. It is such a simple and yet so challenging first hurdle. We must be prepared to let other things go, even what we are asking God for. We must be ready to trust God enough to let him into the driving seat.
That is hard, that is really really hard. Sometimes it means that people have to go through real struggle and difficulty and feel God is not there even if they pray to him regularly. And sometimes it means thinking that one’s life is so much more difficult than others and that God is indifferent to that. But even if one’s mind has struggles and thoughts like this it is never true that God has his arms folded and looks on coldly and distantly. That is just not true.
Twice in the Gospel we see the opposite of this, we see the beautiful compassion of God, the real face of God: when Jesus tells the disciples to go and have a rest for themselves and when he sees the crowd like sheep without a shepherd. OF COURSE Jesus looks at each of our individual lives this way. OF COURSE he is compassionate with our circumstances. There are people who unfortunately have turned back on the road of faith because they lost trust the Jesus had this compassion or love for them. But we should not. We should trust more.
This evening as we gather in front of the Blessed Sacrament let us remember the love of Jesus that shines from it. He really is with us this evening, he is really WITH you this evening, he really SEES you and he has this compassion for YOUR life. He knows the circumstances. Trust him this evening, set out on a path of trust, he will not fail you!
-Fr Declan Lohan