December 10, 2023
Joel asks us to think differently. He is suggesting is that difficulties can be ways God seeks to help us. But Joel is suggesting people view these things as a warning from God, a chance to to see and to examine their own lives and to turn back to the Lord.

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Hello and welcome to Spend Five with Jesus. I am the Friar. Today is Friday, October 13th, 2023. I am delighted to have you with us today.

Today our first reading for Mass came from the book of the prophet Joel, and it’s a good one I think. It causes us, I think when we really explore it a little bit in this reflection, to see things perhaps a little bit upside down, to see things maybe that we don’t always see in this particular way.

Anyway, Joel is speaking to a people that are kind of in a tough time, an agricultural community and not enough water, the winter rains were not sufficient. There’s an infestation of locusts, which is bad, damaging the crops. And the people are really in a mess. They’re really in a bad situation.

But Joel asks them to think about this situation in a little bit of a different way. And what he is suggesting is that these signs, these bad things that are occurring, could be seen as an absence of God. But Joel is suggesting that perhaps the people turn their attention and their view to see these things as a warning from God, a chance to to see and to examine their own lives and to turn back to the Lord.

You know, prophets are almost always sent when things are a mess. And their job is, again, almost always to bring them back to God, to demonstrate to them the ways in which God wants them to live and what it is that God wants them to do. And that’s what Joel is trying to do in this reading.

And he’s saying look if you don’t see where God is active in your life and if you don’t turn your lives around and return to the Lord God, then things could get even worse if we don’t do that. We need to be looking for God in our life.

Now of course we always need to be a little careful when we get readings like this because we want to make sure that when we talk about a warning we’re not talking about the types of things that are toxic. You know sometimes a horrible thing will occur and there’s kind of a toxic, “oh my gosh it was their fault they did all these things” and so forth. That’s not the way God works.

So this isn’t a punishment, it’s a warning. It’s a reminder to people that they need to think about their lives and they need to do something to make their lives better. So that’s really what Joel’s message is.

But now how does this apply to us today? I think one of the most important things is it helps us to understand the most important thing that we are called to do, and that’s to discern. We need to be asking ourselves in our lives, where is it that God is active and alive.

Where is it that God is effective? Where is it in my life that God is calling me to change my life, to become closer to Him, to become less selfish or less mean, or to become one who doesn’t ignore the needs of those people I don’t like or even the people I do like but I don’t want to be bothered to help them when I can. It really is an act of love and kindness on the part of God.

Now I know it may not feel that way, but we all know that the scripture tells us that sometimes things don’t feel so great, but they are the right thing. And that’s what Joel is warning us to do today. Now one thing that’s important, and I think one thing that also helps us to sort out the difference between the kind of toxic blame that we can feel in our lives from the type of repentance and conversion that leads to new life.

One thing that can really be helpful, well I guess two things I should say, one is the regular practice of the sacrament of confession. It forces us to think about our own lives, to reflect on our behavior, and to really seek God’s forgiveness wherever we need it.

The other could be a good spiritual director, someone who can listen to us describe where God is active and can help us maybe to see where God is active in ways that we don’t always recognize. So today think about your own life and think about where it is that you need to change and where it is that you need to repent so that you might clearly more clearly see the presence of God in your life.

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