What does it mean to obey the Lord? Can we ever break an oath to the Lord? In a time where so much can be seen as “up to us”, the idea that we would hand over control to anyone can seem absurd indeed. In fact, in some of those areas where we used to see control surrendered, for example a husband to his wife (for we can only be hurt by those to whom we are vulnerable) are becoming less likely today. We live in a time where individualism is at an all-time high.
And the effects of all this individualism can be seen all around us. We do not just disagree with each other, we demonize each other. We are asked to wear masks for the common good, and we scream our rights are being infringed. Just this morning the New York Times had an article about the struggle in the ACLU about whether only certain types of free speech should be protected under the first amendment. Even in the Church it can be seen. My way of being Catholic is better than your way of being Catholic.
But our relationship with God is not one of a rugged individualism. It is not the case that when we have faith in God, we can go it alone. The opposite is true. Faith in God means that we have decided we cannot go it alone, that we need a savior because we have sinned. We are deeply dependent on the love of God, an unconditional love without which we would not exist.
Yet it goes beyond simply a personal relationship with God, as important as that is. Saint John tells us we cannot say we love God if we hate our brother or sister. Saint James tells us that faith without works is dead. The gospel of Matthew warns us that failing to serve the poor, the sick, the hungry or the imprisoned is failure to serve Jesus himself. We surrender control by accepting God’s love for us, and we surrender it further by committing to serve the needs of others, in season and out of season, whether we like them or not, whether we feel they deserve it and even when we feel they do not.
At the basis of faith is the admission that either God knows better than us or God does not. But for people of faith the thought that we could in any way know better than God is dangerous foolishness. Of course, God knows better than us in all things. But admitting that God knows best means surrendering our complete dependence on our puny minds to his all-knowing mind, not just because God is smarter, but because God is love.
What does all of this have to do with the readings for this upcoming Sunday? The trust in God is connected to the readings because the absolute mess of the circumstances that will be rectified by God in the first reading are the result of the ignoring the command of God. And isn’t it the same with us? Isn’t it that the difficult circumstances in which we find ourselves in are the result of our own sin and folly? As you pray about the Sunday readings this week, ask yourself if you really trust God? Even more than that, imitate the disciples and ask Jesus to increase your faith.