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Getting to Know God When Life is Hard

July 23, 2020  Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time (Lectionary: 398)

Reading 1 JER 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13

This word of the LORD came to me:
Go, cry out this message for Jerusalem to hear!

I remember the devotion of your youth,
how you loved me as a bride,
Following me in the desert,
in a land unsown.
Sacred to the LORD was Israel,
the first fruits of his harvest;
Should any presume to partake of them,
evil would befall them, says the LORD.

When I brought you into the garden land
to eat its goodly fruits,
You entered and defiled my land,
you made my heritage loathsome.
The priests asked not,
“Where is the LORD?”
Those who dealt with the law knew me not:
the shepherds rebelled against me.
The prophets prophesied by Baal,
and went after useless idols.

Be amazed at this, O heavens,
and shudder with sheer horror, says the LORD.
Two evils have my people done:
they have forsaken me, the source of living waters;
They have dug themselves cisterns,
broken cisterns, that hold no water.

 

Responsorial Psalm   36:6-7AB, 8-9, 10-11

R. (10a) With you is the fountain of life, O Lord.
O LORD, your mercy reaches to heaven;
your faithfulness, to the clouds.
Your justice is like the mountains of God;
your judgments, like the mighty deep.
R. With you is the fountain of life, O Lord.
How precious is your mercy, O God!
The children of men take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They have their fill of the prime gifts of your house;
from your delightful stream you give them to drink.
R. With you is the fountain of life, O Lord.
For with you is the fountain of life,
and in your light we see light.
Keep up your mercy toward your friends,
your just defense of the upright of heart.
R. With you is the fountain of life, O Lord.

 

Alleluia   MT 11:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

 

Gospel   MT 13:10-17

The disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Why do you speak to the crowd in parables?”
He said to them in reply,
“Because knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven
has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.
To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich;
from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
This is why I speak to them in parables, because
they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.
Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:

You shall indeed hear but not understand,
you shall indeed look but never see.
Gross is the heart of this people,
they will hardly hear with their ears,
they have closed their eyes,
lest they see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their hearts and be converted
and I heal them.

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.
Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see what you see but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

By Paula Shute 

‘And in Your light we see light’

I almost wanted to run away from the progression of today’s readings. Why? 

First God speaks about how His people betrayed him and then He gets all poetic about how He is our living water. In all honesty, I had to read it three times to get even a gist of what He was and is saying in the first reading. Ok, maybe more than that. Shouldn’t it be easier to understand?? My annoyance continued.

And then in the Gospel reading, to add insult to injury (of my ego), He talks about parables and knowledge that hasn’t been granted yet. Does that mean, because half the time I don’t understand parables, that I haven’t been granted ANY of the knowledge He speaks about? 

Why hasn’t He given me that knowledge? 

Why don’t I have instantaneous scripture wisdom akin to a PHD candidate? 

Does He not think I’m capable of handling that knowledge? 

 

And then, after a re-reading of the psalm, which was the metaphorical breath of fresh air (or drink of living water) that I needed, I saw a poignant reminder: And in Your light we see light. 

I have to grow in His light and knowledge of Him to be able to see past my anger, pride, confusion and the parables themselves.

How do I do that?

Like any relationship, the answer is consistency. Getting to know Him when it’s easy. Getting to know Him when it’s hard. I need to make the choice to grow in relationship with Him no matter my circumstances, in order to bask in His light, so that I may see Truth in everything else. 

It’s easy for me to find motivation to pray and listen to Our Lord when I’m coming off of a praise and worship high with the gift of warm and fuzzy feelings. It’s easy for me to want to read scripture when I have a close friend ask me to do lectio divina and drink good coffee with her.

It’s easy for me to trust God when I have the opportunity to direct a play I love dearly. It’s easy for me to trust God and want to get to Him when life is going well. I desire to get to know Him when life is going well. 

I don’t want to get to know Him when life is hard.

But that’s why consistency in my relationship with Him must become a priority. 

When I have a hard day at work, He still wants me to stop by the chapel to say hi on my way home. I don’t want to, but I try. When I don’t know what to say to help our country with racial healing, I get tired, and don’t want to ask God for the grace to keep speaking the truth about how black lives are sacred and how I have my own biases and privilege to work through. But I’m trying. When there still is no magical cure for my mom’s schizoaffective symptoms, I don’t want to pray the rosary or tell God I’m angry at Him or let Him in. But I. keep. trying. Sometimes. It’s still hard. And I’m still pretty darn human. Just ask my therapist or spiritual director. But when I’m tired, angry, sad, stressed, and 100 percent do not want to pray, that’s when He’s reaching out the most.

And I know I need to treat my relationship with God, as a relationship with a person standing in front of me, because He is. A person. And Christ is standing in front of me. Waiting. He should be my closest relationship. And a truth that will lead me towards consistency and a deeper relationship with God is that I need to ask for what I need: for Him to pour His living waters on my eyes so I can finally see and bask in His light.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paula Shute has a BA in Psychology from Ave Maria University and a Master's degree in Shakespeare and Performance from Mary Baldwin University, so if you look up "nerd" in the dictionary, you'll find a picture of her there. She works full time in the Advancement office of her undergraduate alma mater, and after work you'll find her directing high schoolers in plays, telling people Jesus loves them, saying yes to too many projects, and drinking good coffee or good wine, depending on the hour. Follow her here for sass, occasional theological reflections, and a whole lot of opinions that prove she does indeed live up to youngest child stereotypes. 

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