I have two questions for you! Has anyone ever made you a promise, (I swear to God I will do it) and then not followed through with their promise/their commitment? Have you ever made a promise, (I swear to God I will do it) and then failed to follow through!
In our daily life we often experience people making promises that are not kept and we ourselves often make promises that we fail to keep. Our human experience is that there are countless promises made and broken – individuals do it, trusted people do it, groups, organizations and leadership councils do it, and governments do it.
This morning in our first reading, we hear Isaiah tell us that God is powerful – God’s words go out and they never return empty. They do exactly what God wants them to do. God does what God says God is going to do. This is what Isaiah tells us.
In the gospel we read a part of the parable of the sower. I like this text because Jesus is acting foolishly. Jesus is being unreasonable. How is he foolish or unreasonable? Jesus is sowing seeds everywhere – on the path, on rocky ground with little topsoil, among the thorns, and even on good soil. Jesus, rather than sowing seeds where he is certain they will grow, scatters them everywhere. He would not be a good farmer here in Saskatchewan. Some of the seeds don’t really have much of a chance but then again one never knows.
In St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, Paul suggests that creation has been fashioned by God. Creation has limits – there is suffering and meaninglessness – God knows what God created – it is not like God is out of touch. In the midst of this suffering and futility there is something within creation that makes it yearn for completion, for union with God. That same yearning or longing is alive within us. What we are searching for and longing for is God – even if we do not know it! God is present even if we cannot see God.
When we look at our life we can and we do ask countless questions. What is my purpose in life? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why, if God is so good, why is there so much suffering?
I have discovered that at various moments in our lives we fashion answers to these questions. We answer these questions based on what is happing for us. If we are suffering then we tend to have a negative view of people around us or of God. If things are going well for us – we tend to talk about how good God is. The measure of our faith is our ability to give God thanks and praise – our ability to trust God even when things look dark and painful.
The scriptures today – beginning with our reading from Isaiah remind us that God is faithful – ultimately God is aware of how things are unfolding – when God intervenes it is never to destroy – it is always to create life and to communicate love. Jesus scatters his love, his invitations to love, his mercy and forgiveness everywhere. Paul tells us everything is as it should be.
So what do we do? We have choices to make. We can welcome God’s life and love or we can reject it. I can be nice to my neighbour or I can be terrible. It is our choice. I can be generous or I can be stingy. I can be helpful or I can be greedy. The goodness we do or the evil we do causes ripples in our world.
God calls us to goodness and to do good. The Spirit in us prompts us to goodness. We choose to say yes or no. The nasty things we see around us, the nasty things we do flow from choices we make. Here is where we often get upset. We think if we are good everyone should be good to us. We think if people are bad then they should be punished.
Jesus is unreasonable – whether we are hard, rocky, thorny or good soil Jesus reaches out to us. That is okay when it pertains to us. But Jesus treats others the same way. It is this that we don’t like. As long as we are the recipient of forgiveness and mercy we are okay. When people we don’t like get the same treatment we cry foul – we say it is unfair – unreasonable.
Today, God says to us – I have one goal to draw all people to myself – I have put my Spirit within you to encourage you to come to me, to long for me. I am not going to give up on you.
Think about that folks. God will not give up on us. We welcome that kind of mercy. We are glad for it. God shares that same kind of mercy with everyone – even people we don’t like. We have a choice – we can respond to God’s goodness or not. It is up to us.
This week – I invite us to take a look at those people we don’t like and see God reaching out to them. We cannot change God. We cannot change others. We can change ourselves. If we resent God’s goodness to them then we have some work to do. We have some new choices to make.
We are invited to be like God – to be like Jesus. It is not about fighting – that kind of language is not helpful. We are to love, and we are to love always.
I don’t know about you, but I know that I have to listen more closely to the Spirit alive in me. A spirit who encourages me to surrender my way of seeing so that I become more and more like Christ. Let us pray for each other this week!
Fr. Doug Jeffrey, OMI