Envy eats away at us. We can be consumed by it. We did not get that job promotion. We do not have the same material goods as others. People do not recognize us for our accomplishments as we think they should. We can even envy God. Why does he care for those people? Why does he tolerate those who think so differently than we do?
Will you seek the Lord wherever he may be found? Are you willing to share God’s infinite love with others? Will you seek to set the example of the power of being a disciple of Jesus that leads to happiness and fulfillment?
I knew very early in my life I did not want to be a farmer. It was hard manual labor. So many things were outside your control. The demands of the job were constant. Sometimes we know where the seed of faith falls, and we can choose how to respond. At other times, we do not know where the seed will fall, yet we can still choose to find God. Either way, trying to find God in all things, and his purpose for us, is what we need to do.
Today the readings feature unlikely heroes. Sometimes we can think we are beyond God’s forgiveness. We can believe that even with God’s grace, it is not powerful enough to turn our lives around. Whether it is big or small, God’s grace works miracles. Believe in it.
Is there anything worse for a parent than to watch their child die? It has to be the most heart wrenching and difficult type of sorrow. And if your son is killed as a common criminal, a death of shame? Unbearable. And yet that was the circumstance for Mary, the Mother of God. She bore tremendous suffering watching her son die a shameful death. How was she able to do it? The overwhelming openness she cultivated in her life to God’s grace.
Therefore, if food causes my brother to sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I may not cause my brother to sin. Saint Paul in today’s first reading is talking about meat sacrificed to idols. So concerned about the potential to lead someone away from Jesus, he makes this statement about not eating meat. He is not eating meat sacrificed to idols. But he is always concerned about helping strengthen relationships with Jesus. I have never thought much about the effect of my actions on others. Do my actions serve as a hindrance to the faith life of others, keeping them from getting to know and love Jesus? Or does my witness lead them to a deeper relationship with Jesus?
We are always in the presence of God. But how often do we recall this? Today we celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is the Mother of God. But do we consider how many elements of God’s grace needed to work together for this miraculous event that was the birth of her son? There is, of course, the “yes” from Mary. But as a support to her “yes”, there was the faith needed by Joseph to listen to the angel. Can you imagine how challenging it was to have to tell Joseph she was both faithful and pregnant? If you remember you are in the holy presence of God at all times, you too can do miraculous things because of God’s grace.
Today in the Dominican Order we have the option to offer Mass for the deceased benefactors of the Order, which I chose to do today for Mass. This homily reminds us that all is gift, and that the goal of living Dominican poverty is to do it in such a way that people are lead by the witness to a closer relationship with Jesus.
Sometimes our human wisdom comes in direct contrast with the wisdom of God. That is not to say we should not use our gift of reason, nor even that our gift of reason is unreliable. Rather, it is to suggest that sometimes the longer, eternal wisdom of God can seem to contradict our human reason. To find our lives, we have to lose them. To receive, we have to give. Today Saint Paul and Saint Peter remind us through word and example how important it is to recognize the limits of our human wisdom when compared to the eternal wisdom of God.
Just how do we know what we know? The first reading today gives us a little lesson in the study of knowing, called epistemology. “No one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God.” That is to say, there are some things we have been given the smarts to figure out on our own. Much of our day to day life falls into this category. On the other hand, there are something things that are beyond our reason. With these things, we can only know what we know because God tells them to us. The depths and riches and mind of God are beyond what we can understand. But because of God’s love for us, God allows us to enter into a relationship with him.