Thursday, February 15, 2007

Thursday in the 6th Week of Ordinary Time (I)
The Keeping of God’s Covenant

Readings: Genesis 9:1-13; Psalms 102:16-18, 19-21, 29 and 22-23; Mark 8:27-33

There are two words that one often hears being used together in the same sentence whenever people encounter trials of some sort: if and why. For example: If God really loves me, then why did God let this happen? Many of us know the promises that God has made to us – promises of a future full of hope and not of destruction (see Jeremiah 29:11). But don’t we find it difficult to believe in these promises especially when situations arise that seem to put them into question? Indeed, isn’t it precisely at times when we sorely need to cling to God’s promises that we find it difficult to place our trust in them? What, for example, is our reaction to the Covenant that God makes in the first reading today?

We might begin by noticing its scope as well as its substance. With whom is God covenanting? See, I establish my Covenant with you, and… with everything that lives on the earth… God is not just addressing Jews or Christians or Muslims. Rather, through Noah, God is covenanting with everything that lives on the earth. And what is God promising? There shall be no flood to destroy the earth again.

All this sounds pretty good until we think it over a little more deeply and perhaps relate it to our lives a little more closely. Has God really kept God’s word? Although we probably don’t know of another flood on quite the same scale as the one Noah is supposed to have survived, don’t we live in a post-Asian-Tsunami world? Aren’t the victims of that catastrophe still trying to reconstruct their shattered lives? And we can quite easily go on to list other natural disasters that have led to much loss of life, not to mention the wars and terrorist attacks, the genocides and other atrocities that human beings inflict on one another. If God really means to keep God’s covenant, then why…?

In the face of tragedy and hardship, it’s very natural to ask the question why? And we should probably not suppress the urge to do so. Yet some of us might have experienced how the attempt to answer the question objectively can actually be counter-productive. Some end up giving in to cynicism and despair. Others find themselves subscribing too easily to clichéd phrases – such as: God lets this happen for your own good – without much conviction.

But for those who continue to stay with their pain and to somehow address their anguish to God, something happens. For some the question why gradually leads to other questions, very personal questions like where were you? or how were you keeping your promises to me? And those who courageously continue to address these uncomfortable questions to God actually begin to receive a satisfactory response – a response tailored specifically to the questioner. The actual expression of the response will vary. It may come in words or in images, in thoughts or in emotions, or a combination of these. But, for Christians, these are all expressions of the same answer. We heard it in the gospel today:

And Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected… and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again…

For us who are Christian, the answer to all our questions lies in the crucified and risen Christ. To be Christian is to continually find in Christ the privileged way in which God chooses to keep God’s Covenant. And to experience the blessings of this Covenant is also to share, each in our own way, in Christ’s sacrifice for the life of the world.

How are we being called to cling to God’s Covenant with us in Christ today?

2 comments:

  1. It's almost laughable to think that the people of ancient times actually thought they could 'reach' heaven by building the tallest tower that their engineers could conceive. Really? Sometimes I look inside myself and am indicted by my own attempts to manipulate God.

    Their motive was literally to get closer to God but sadly, they were anywhere but closer to Him, because they were not seeking an improved relationship with the Lord. If anything, they wanted to reach heaven by their own efforts. Aren't we all sometimes guilty of the same?

    Jesus reached heaven not by climbing a tower but by climbing onto a cross. He built the Kingdom of God in the humility of self-sacrifice and for the sake of others.

    It doesn't make sense, but it's true: our greatest accomplishments don't come from reaching personal heights of success and fame; they happen when we build up other people. We are at our best when we love sacrificially. We reach God when we walk on lowly ground to help those who need help.

    Today, as we stand on the threshold of a new lunar year, it is apt to reflect on the ways we have tried to 'reach' God.

    May Almighty God continue to prosper our relationship with Him and with others and to provide for us in the new lunar year. Amen.

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  2. Hi Stevie,

    Totally agree with ya that "we reach God when we walk lowly ground to help those who need help". Personally in my work as a social worker and my ministry @ SVDP, I find it amazingly refreshed and "spiritually rejuvenated" when I am able to help someone in crisis or in need. Just to share, last week when we tried to help a poor family get a 2nd-hand 29 inch TV (to replace their miserable 14 inch), we had problems trying to get it work. I prayed really hard and after half an hour, the TV worked! I was overjoyed as I cld see the joy on the family's face and left praising the Lord for making a simple machine like a TV add some "joy" in their lives. The point is though I fail at times to be as prayerful as I shd be (I really need to work on it :)), personally, I feel that I'm connected to God alot, thru my work and ministry as I can truly feel him in me, giving me this "grace" to do all these for his people. I'm like his earthly instrument to help those in need.I feel tt, God has somewhat grown in me so "naturally" that I don't have to be consciously aware of him or keep "preaching" about him to feel him...the goodness of God just comes so naturally in my life (not saying tt I'm a Saint) tt I really attest to "We reach God when we walk lowly grounds...". Praise the Lord for his grace and strength throughout my work and ministry!

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