The 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time: September 20, 2020
TRUST IN GOD’S WISDOM (Isaiah 55:6-9)
It is hard to figure God out. Looking around creation we see beautiful places but also areas of devastation. We meet charitable people but also others who are unkind. We see homes of the rich and the streets of the homeless. One family prospers. Another suffers multiple tragedies. What was God thinking by creating such inequality?
Our own lives are also filled with blessing and sorrow. Momentary incidents have forever shaped us. Friends have rescued us. Death stalks us. It is hard to figure out what God has in mind.
God spoke to Isaiah, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.” You can say that again. As hard as it is to read the mind of God, God does not choose to act the way we think a divine, loving Being should.
Through the prophet, God does not apologize for the way things are. Instead, God simply tells us we will never quite figure it out. The best we can do is turn to God for mercy.
To accept the wisdom of God requires faith and humble admission of our own inability to fully probe God’s plan. It also takes trust that God will ultimately bring about the good that awaits all creation.
MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH (Philippians 1:20c–24, 27a)
When death threatens to overtake us, we fight for life. We love the life we have received from God. We treasure it. We make every effort to preserve it. As Christians, we do not fear death. We believe it leads to peace. But we do not advance death either.
People who have no fear of death are awesome figures. At their best, they risk their lives for their family, their faith, or their country. But simpler heroes choose not to fight the approach of death, whether it comes by stealth of disease or by the onslaught of an enemy’s hand.
It is riveting to hear the opening of St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians: “For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. . . . I long to depart this life and be with Christ, for that is far better. Yet that I remain in the flesh is more necessary for your benefit.”
Death or life—Paul could take either one. His life helped people who needed his example and preaching. But his death would bring him to Christ. Given the choice, Paul preferred living in Christ. After all, his work had brought more than its share of torment and torture. Glorious peace awaited him. But he had work to do, and he accepted it.
We fight to preserve our lives, but in faith we accept what awaits us in death. Life is Christ. Death is gain.
Reflections: Lectionary Bulletin Inserts: Reflections on the First and Second Readings, Year A © 2019 Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications. All rights reserved. Written by Paul Turner. Lectionary for Mass © 2001, CCD.