Living the Gospel – July 4, 2021

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To me, the readings for today are about who God is, who Jesus is, and who we are, and how the Holy Spirit works to bring us closer together. That is, if we are open to what that means in our lives. We do not always pay attention even when the Lord speaks to us and empowers us. Instead, we often fear what listening to God can mean in our lives. It can put constraints on us, and it can make us vulnerable. We do not like that. We like to rely on our own power. The prophet Ezekial knew well that the people in the Old Testament did not much like listening to God when the going got rough, or when things were going their way, for that matter. It was his job to remind them sternly that the Lord had a message for their salvation and was still their God. Ezekial proclaimed that his words were inspired by the Spirit of God. Whether they heed or resist, the Lord said, they are going to know that a prophet has been among them.

Some did heed, and some did resist. And then came Jesus, who was in addition to being the Christ, a good scholar, and teacher of the Old Testament. He knew well the problems prophets had, especially among their own people. He too was experiencing the same thing. Despite what Jesus could demonstrate in terms of God’s power, or the words He spoke inspired by the Holy Spirit, if the people did not like what they heard, they would either dismiss him or run him out of town. So, if nothing changed in the human condition from the time of Ezekial to the time of Jesus, I am certain we are the same kind of people today. If what we hear is not convenient to us, we still either dismiss Jesus and our modern prophets or run them out of town.

The Psalm we read for today, then, is still highly relevant. When we fix our eyes on the Lord for anything, we must include a plead for mercy. We have not listened very well. We have been rebellious. The good news is that we can still call upon the Lord and be heard. That has been the constant from the beginning. And yet, we are living in more enlightened times since Jesus came to be our teacher and savior. With the gift of the Holy Spirit, we can do better than the rebelliousness of the Old Testament. We have more detailed instructions in the New Testament on how to build our communities around Christ and live out our faith more confidently. That is not easy. In order to live out our faith more boldly, Paul reminds us we are going to have to let that faith put constraints on our wills and allow ourselves to be made vulnerable. We are going to have to take up our crosses with Jesus and let the Spirit work through our weaknesses.

Today, I pray that we, like Paul, can learn through our own life experiences with the Spirit that power is not something that we have that we guard against weakness by our human strength. It is a spiritual power we gain through accepting our human weakness. Life does not have to wear us down. With Christ, it can make us stronger. No matter what happens to us in this life, we can not only hear but be agents of, the good news to the poor that Jesus brings. Through Jesus, we have been made strong enough.

by Barbara Dilly
Creighton University – retired