for Sunday, August 14, 2011
Do you accept that the grace of God in Jesus Christ is always at work and
in everyone? The teaching today is very clear for all of us: God does not
give us salvation because we do certain things or because we belong to a
certain religion. God saves us because He loves us in Christ Jesus and
extends His love to all peoples. Anyone who seriously looks for God or for
the divine is already in the Kingdom.
Does that mean that whatever religion we believe makes no difference. Not
at all! Instead it makes it even more important that we seek out and
follow the true religion. Today everyone is uneasy to call other religions
false religions. What was meant by false religion in the past is not what
we mean today. We still must always hold that God can work where He wills.
Today we would probably rephrase the statement of false religion and say
more directly: There can be "traces of God" in every religion and in every
serious seeking for the truth about God. We Catholics would say that our
faith, our religion, has a fullness of truth that no other religion has.
That does not mean that priests, bishops, cardinals, people in general or
even the Pope never ever make mistakes or act against the teachings and
traditions of the Church.
Recent history keeps us humble and aware that darkness and sin come even
to the Church—and in many ways, not just in sexual abuse. The more humble
we are, the more we are able to see God's actions at work in our world:
The first reading, from the Prophet Isaiah, reminds us that those of us
who are Catholic are not always faithful to the teachings of the Church,
just as some who were practicing Jews were also not faithful to the
teachings given to Moses. We are also reminded that those who are not
children of Abraham can also be faithful to God's love in their own ways
and thus be better than those who have been given the gift of faith.
The second reading, from the Letter to the Romans, remind us that God's
gifts and faithfulness are irrevocable, even when we seem bent on
rejecting them. God always continues to invite us to the kingdom. God
shows mercy because of our disobedience. That sounds strange to our ears,
but it is the way that God is: no matter how often we sin, he invites us
anew to the kingdom.
Today portion of the Gospel of Saint Matthew shows us what we need to do:
keep on asking the Lord for what we need, even when perhaps we really don't
believe Him or at some levels perhaps don't even want Him in our lives.
Keep asking. That is such a strong lesson for us today. And it is only
important because God always listens and eventually can free us from our
prisons of darkness, sin and error. Let us give praise to this Lord who
loves us so much!
Readings of the day:
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: