“Offer to God praise as your sacrifice
and fulfill your vows to the Most High;
Then call upon me in time of distress;
I will rescue you, and you shall glorify me.”
That is one verse from the Responsorial Psalm for today, with the Response being: “Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.”
It came to me as the most powerful message for today’s reflection. It speaks to me words for the stressful and distressing times in which we are all living – a message offering simple wisdom and guidance to help us, so it is a very “good news” and comforting reflection for today!
I did want to say a few things about the Gospel reading but will just bring one key thing to your attention. Who sows the bad seed “darnel” in the good seed “wheat”? Who is the “enemy” in this passage? Men – the children of the devil working for him in our world by sowing lies that corrupt the truth that heals and saves.
* * * * * *
KEEP DRIVING AND JUST DON’T LOOK….WHOOPS!
Not easy to do when you pass a bad accident on the road – we can’t think of a great reason to look at mangled bodies in the ditch, and we know it will traumatize us most likely, but we look anyways.
Not easy to not to look into our imagination to see if we can glimpse the even worse “accident” we sense is on the horizon – given what Jesus told us regarding doing that, we know it will likely traumatize us, but alas!, far too many of us are doing it far too often these days, and like getting your pandemic news from the CBC or CNN…well, you might as well just plug directly into the devil….it’s all lies.
We can see what is all around us, and we are constantly battling the temptation not to become a permanent resident in our imagination, desperate to know what is going on in the world now, and even more desperate to get a heads up on what’s likely coming.
We sense a horrific future unfolding before us – and we’re not wrong. We awake each day wondering what we should do, wondering what we CAN do.
We feel powerless in the face of such overwhelming evil at work in the world, so, feeling weak and unable to act, we wonder, imagine, speculate, and slowly erode the security we should be enjoying in God, and we are suddenly no longer asking Jesus to “kick us through the goalposts of life,” as the smash hit (bought it, smashed it) put it!
WHAT ARE WE TO DO?
Well, that’s a discernment process we each have to undergo on our own, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, asking God to inspire us with insight into what Jesus would do if he was in our shoes, which he is, if we are abiding in His Sacred Heart and keeping the seed of His Word in good soil allowing it to run deep and secure roots that anchor us firmly in God and give stability, stature and strength – wheat in His harvest producing 100-fold, hopefully, but at least 60-fold.
Despite the unique circumstances that each of us face as we engage in that discernment process, we are all nonetheless facing more or less the same situation.
We’re really not that different from one another: we are all human beings, brothers and sisters in the same family created by the same God, lost souls seeking salvation from a God who loves us all equally, and wants all of us to be saved and brought into perfect union with Him to enjoy the fullness of life forever.
So neighbour, if we cooperate, and God’s plan comes to fruition, which it will, then you and I and everyone else who will be in union with God will be in union with one other, sharing the same life in God’s Holy Spirit.
That’s later….now, we’re all in the same hot water facing very similar challenges in that we’re lost souls searching for peace and joy in a turbulent world being run by an entity usually depicted as blood red with horns. There’s little peace to be found for many these days it seems, with so much unnecessary suffering being caused by great evil, a refusal to embrace truth, and a complete discounting that all that unnecessary human suffering even exists, let alone represents a challenge to charity and good leadership to address and remediate immediately, which, of course, allows it to continue and worsen.
SO….WHAT ARE WE TO DO??
The verse from the Responsorial Psalm offers a “key” to getting a whole lot more of the peace and joy we are seeking with likely marginal success these days.
When we give praise to God, we get out of our imagination which is inhabited by demons. You may not know or believe that, but I never go there anymore, unless God asks me to, which happens often of course with the kind of work I’m doing…but outside of that – I consider it a “no fly zone” for my spirit. God does not reside in the imagination, because the imagination is not a ‘place’ – it’s a decision we make to turn our attention away from God to go exploring on our own (again, unless we’re called to go there).”
We pray “Lead us not into temptation…Amen,” every day, then immediately start worrying about the future, as we scurry off to the imaginary world of “I wonder what will happen?” and “OMG…what will I do if THAT happens??”
We lose clarity about how we are not to worry about any of that, or even think about it [“sufficient is the evil of the day, tomorrow will take care of itself” (Matthew 6:34] unless God’s Holy Spirit brings us there to see how something is likely to unfold for the purpose of preparing us, or for our work.
When that happens we will know because the experience will be peaceful, not fueled by negative emotions and fearful and anxious thoughts, but somehow associated with our own spiritual growth or our mission to testify to the truth out of love for others and the praise and glory of God.
That’s why praising God is a SACRIFICE – the biggest one in fact. Why? Because we can’t praise God without first shifting our focus from ourselves to Him, and for us to stop thinking about ourselves is to die to ourselves, it’s to change entirely, to move from having fearful thoughts to having loving thoughts, from being anxious about the future to trusting in the promises of our Lord and being at peace.
If we “fulfil our vows” and honour our promises to God, and praise Him at all times rather than attempt to sneak into enemy territory in the world of phantoms to “figure our their plans” to protect ourselves we’ll be getting to ‘work,’ taking on Jesus’ burden and not creating one in our imagination, and we’ll find that rest for our souls Jesus promised.
It is only after we do that that we can confidently call upon God to rescue us, which He will, but ONLY after taking care of our part of the bargain, as noted in the Psalm: “THEN..call upon me in time of distress.”
I’m thinking this likely qualifies as a ‘time of distress’ for most of us, so this guidance seems appropriate and timely: The formula is straightforward:
(1) We need to trust God like we told him a thousand times we’d do, and stop worrying about what might happen to us or others…if we are having trouble shifting the focus of our mind back on God, we need to ask for the grace of control over our attention;
(2) Once we do that, we will experience a shot of confidence in God fulfilling His own promise to “rescue” us, which we almost immediately begin to experience as His transforming love, peace and joy that comes to us as we praise Him for the gift of His only begotten Son, salvation from sin, and the promise of eternal life with Him.
That is life in the Spirit in contrast to “life in the imagination”! When we are experience our days living in the Spirit, we can truly “be ourselves” and that is something we discover each day as we refuse to put any limits on what we might do for the Glory of God in service to our neighbour.
We need to challenge ourselves constantly to let go of worry and truly trust that with God “all things are possible,” believing that God is indeed “with us” intimately, so if all things are possible with God, and God is truly with us, then we can expect the unexpected that far exceeds the limits we tend to put on ourselves.
We need to remain open to anything and everything that God may have in mind for us and be quick to say “yes” to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit rather than jumping on the imaginary “yeah, but if I do that…..” train to hell!
What just came to mind is something Brother Anthony once said to me, “If ever you read or hear from God, “Who will…,” don’t wait to hear what it is…yell immediately, “I WILL!”
If we have the courage and faith to trust God, He will surprise us, and others through us, in many marvellous and unexpected ways manifesting His glory in and through us as he rescues us!
“Jesus, we ask this day for the grace of your peaceful presence, to comfort us in this great time of suffering, confusion and distress. Strengthen us with the power of your Holy Spirit, and give us all we need to be faithful to you in doing all you asked us to do, obeying all your commandments, honouring and praising our Father for the gift of life and the salvation He provides in and with you and the Holy Spirit to bring us back from our selfish slide away from you so as to be a part of your victory over sin and evil and death.” Amen.