8th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

“Judge this case for me.” I was asked by God to do something hard, something that was going to cause me to be humbled. The person I was asked to do it for was someone I felt hurt by and, in all honesty, would rather lash out at them than help them. It wasn’t sinful what God asked, just hard to submit my pride. I was angered at the suggestion that I should help. What was my problem? What I came up with is I am still trying to serve two masters - my pride and God. I have to let my pride, my desire to control, die so that I can once again trust more fully in God.

Today’s Gospel reminded me that we are struggling to keep the Old Covenant law.  We are not even close to receiving the New Testament law which invites us into a radical trust in God. We are like the pagans mentioned in the Gospel - we are always wondering, “Do we have enough?” This is a plague in the Church - priests, lay people, and religious are all asking the question, “Do we have enough?”  Jesus says the pagans worry about these things. I think I worry about these things. Yikes, that is such a bad sign. Look at the Old Covenant Law - they were called to tithe. To tithe means to give ten percent of your income. That is hard for sure and most of us are not meeting that command. Yet the New Testament doesn’t have that command because we are called to give freely, without percent, because God is our Father and we will lack nothing. In the Old Covenant, we are called not to kill. In the New Covenant, we are called not to hate as well. We are called not to worry, not to be anxious about tomorrow. Yet we totally do these things. In the First Reading we hear, “Can a mother forget her child?  Yet even if these forget I will never forget you.”  Do these words console us, that God will not forget us? I think these words, and trusting in them, is the difference of whether we live like a pagan or not. Do we know God is our Father?  If we do, we have to put aside our great concern about tomorrow and live in the day, the hour, we have.

In the Gospel, Jesus gives us so many examples of things He looks after and how they work out better that anything we plan. How things we burn in the oven are better dressed than what we could make. How the simple birds of the air live by the hand of God. What about us? I think we are often trying to insulate ourselves from the hand of God. We are like the people after Noah’s time who built a tower to make sure they were safe from God’s flood, in case He broke His promise not to flood the earth again. We do the same thing by not making radical acts of faith but rather radical acts of self-reliance. Can we trust the God who says “I will never forget you”? Can we trust the God who made every aspect of the universe as a sign of His love for us? We learn to trust God by putting our trust in Him. This Lent is a great time to put our trust in God, to make generous acts of faith in the areas of Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving.

Prayer: Pray when you don’t feel like it and see what happens. I have found when I don’t want to pray and I kneel down and get all serious about it, great things happen. When I pray the laziest way I can, very little happens. During Lent from five to six pm each day there will be Adoration (except if there is a seven pm Mass then it will be from six to seven). I encourage you to make the time and witness what your faith in God will do.
Fasting:  Give up something hard and offer it up for someone. For example, you could do a media fast in the evening and find other things to do.  Offer that fast up and see what God can do.

Almsgiving:  Be radical and push yourself.  If you have promised to give something and it becomes hard, stick to it even if it seems like you are putting yourself in jeopardy.  Stay, trust and you will see amazing things happen. I know from experience you will be amazed.

Yes, we are still struggling to live the Old Covenant. This Lent let us shift into the New with bold new trust in the Lord. He has promised and He has never broken a promise. With our bold new trust will come bold new miracles and new trust so that God can show us what the New Covenant is all about.

I was once praying with a man who was troubled by demons and at the end of the prayer he said nothing had happened. At first I was deflated that my prayer didn’t work and then I was inspired, I thought, “No way, God doesn’t lie.  If He said He did something, He did.”  So I told the man it was a lie and he had to stop believing this lie because God said He worked and so He did. “You are now free now by the grace of God.  Rejoice in that and you will be free.” He trusted what I said, and he experienced freedom. God does not fail. My dear brothers and sisters, let us use this Lent to truly participate in the New Covenant of God’s awesome Fatherhood. Let us be truly renewed by our prayer, fasting and almsgiving.          

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