Why are dandelions weeds? While I never really read this book, as I remember it, the point was that sometimes beauty is in the eye of the beholder. How many mothers have been the recipient of a beautiful bouquet of dandelions from a young child? How beautiful fields look when they are overloaded with dandelions? But as we age, we can see another side of dandelions. We can see that they gradually take over a lawn. Sin is like this as well. Sin can appear attractive, but in fact the long lasting effects take over our soul. Saint Paul offers the remedy.
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.
Brother Andrew Martin reminds us that today’s challenging reality reflects a new normal that Jesus invites us into. Even after all this time, Br. Andrew Martin asks if we have yet become accustomed to the ‘New Normal’ of Christ. If we live in Christ, he accompanies us in our fear, and invites us to trust in Him.
I sin. And as a result, I deserve nothing from God. Everything, everything I receive from God is because of his grace. His free gift to me, given only because God loves me. And this is true for you too.
How can you be generous? That is the message of hope we are called to have as people of faith. How can your generosity be increased? How can your example of sacrifice help others to see how the faith produces calm and peace? How is it we can increase our faith in God, who is far stronger than any other created thing, even a coronavirus. All the readings provide us examples of what hope in God brings. Pray for the virtue of hope, and ask God to give you and witness to that peace that comes from deep faith in him.
If we are not paying careful attention to what Saint Paul is saying in the second reading this Sunday, we could miss something quite dramatic. We are made in God’s image and likeness. And so we are temples of the Holy Spirit, because we are made that way. So we become, in a very real way, the vehicles for others to encounter the presence of God. If we live faithfully God’s commandments, then we show forth all that God can do for us in his goodness.
Going Behind the Word: In order to get a better sense of what Saint Paul is getting at in the second reading from this Sunday’s Mass, it is helpful to look at what he says before what we hear today. He goes to great lengths to contrast what it means to trust in human wisdom, the wisdom of this age, and the wisdom he preaches, which pierces God. Human wisdom causes us to love ourselves, but God’s wisdom invites us into the very depths of God’s being in love. Human wisdom may satisfy today, but God’s wisdom saves forever.
Today’s section of Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans is one of my favorites. I’ve often used today’s first reading at funerals. I find the words of Saint Paul to be a great comfort in a world where I could feel small and helpless. God can only be separated from us by our own choices, our sins, but even then is willing to do whatever it takes to bring us back into he care and grace.
We might not be used to reading the Bible in this way, but with careful notice one can see that often the events of the New Testament are foreshadowed in the Old. Today Saint Paul gives us one of the most common examples, the comparison of the First Adam, who by one act, sinned, causing us all to inherit sin, and the New Adam, Christ, who by one act, redeemed all opening the door to salvation. It serves as a reminder that we should do our best to hear the warning Jesus gives to us in the gospel. We should be awake, on guard, on the watch, so that we can clearly experience the presence of God wherever we find it.