Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 27, 2020
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 25, set perfectly in the midst of a few readings that speak to us about, among other things , “the Father’s Will”.
I think there is no greater spiritual mystery than the meaning of “God’s Will”, (and not wanting to show up Thomas Aquinas, I’ll resist explaining it here. 😂🧐)
But we’ve all heard attempts at explaining it, haven’t we, especially as it relates to suffering— as in:
- everything that happens is God’s Will, so we must accept it
- God wills our suffering to test us
- if God wills that we suffer, He will give us the strength to endure it
I just don’t think so … not the God I love and Who loves me.
But these attempts to explain suffering are understandable because we want to rationalize the things we fear. Most of us, I think, struggle with the problem of evil and suffering in the world. We want to know what to do when, as Rabbi Kushner wrote, “… Bad Things Happen to Good People”.
Our first reading from Ezekiel shows us that even the ancient peoples met this struggle. The prophet seems to suggest that if you’re bad, you’ll suffer. If you repent, you won’t. Well, we all know that’s not quite the reality! But nice try, Ezekiel.
Our psalm gently leads to another way of facing suffering as the psalmist prays for wisdom, compassion and divine guidance. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus himself prayed like this as he confronted his impending suffering.
In our second reading, Paul places before us the example of Jesus who, in the face of suffering, was transformed by love:
Praying with these readings, each one of us must come to our own peace with the mystery of suffering. What we can be sure of is this: God’s Will is always for our wholeness and joy as so simply taught to us when we were little children:
God made me to know, love, and serve God,
and to be happy with God in this world and forever.
Our Gospel tells us that such happiness comes through faith and loving service, through responding to “the Father’s Will”. May we have the insight, the love and the courage!
Poetry: Of Being by Denise Levertov
I know this happiness is provisional: the looming presences— great suffering, great fear— withdraw only into peripheral vision: but ineluctable this shimmering of wind in the blue leaves: this flood of stillness widening the lake of sky: this need to dance, this need to kneel: this mystery:
Music: To You, O Lord (Psalm 25) Graham Kendrick