Thursday, July 27, 2017

“Wisdom for the Simple” by Colleen O’Sullivan

In those days:  God delivered all these commandments:  I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.  You shall not have other gods besides me.  (Exodus 20:1-3)

R.  Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.  (John 6:68c)
The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the Lord is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.  (Psalm 19:8)

Jesus said to his disciples: “Hear the parable of the sower.  The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom without understanding it, and the Evil One comes and steals away what was sown in his heart…  The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit.”  (Matthew 13:18-19, 22)

Lord, as the Master Tiller, prepare the soil of my heart to be ready and receptive to receive the seeds that are your Word.

“The decree of the Lord is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple,” says the psalmist.  If only more people in the world realized that we are the simple ones and that God’s a whole lot better at running the universe than any of us will ever be, hard as we may try.

I was struck by the opening of today’s reading from the Book of Exodus.  These commandments aren’t meant to be onerous burdens.  The God who gives us this gift is the same God who loved the Hebrew people so much he went to great lengths to free them from slavery in Egypt, testing Pharaoh time and again with various plagues, and going so far as to part the waters of the sea so those fleeing could escape from Pharaoh’s army. It’s the same God who sends his Son into the world to be one with us, to die for us, to be raised from the dead that we might share in eternal life with Jesus. 

The commandments are about God’s love for us and God’s desire for us to live with as little pain and suffering as possible.  The first few commandments highlight the difference between being human and being God.  Left to our own devices, we often reverse the order of things and mistakenly behave as though we are in charge of our lives.  Or we get confused and worship things of this world rather than God.  Either way, when we forget to acknowledge the one, true God, we end up making ourselves miserable.  Our efforts are doomed to failure.  God would like to spare us that.

Maybe God would like to save us from the exhaustion of a 24/7 society.  God tells us to observe a Sabbath day, a holy day of rest.  Even God took a day off when creating the universe!   Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could have one day of nothing but worship and renewal every week?  Who knows, we might even put down our iPhones and tablets to reacquaint ourselves with family and friends in the flesh!  Having the chance to recharge our batteries would help the rest of the week go a lot better for many of us.

God’s commandments are not old-fashioned.  On the contrary, they seem very practical and down to earth centuries after being imparted to us.  What if no one told lies, for example?  What if we didn’t look at everything with suspicion as to its verity?  There’d be no fake news.  We could believe politicians as well as everyone else.  What a concept.

What if we gave up killing, stealing, and wishing for things that belong to someone else?  No more murders on our streets or in our homes.  No more late night robberies at convenience stores.  No more road rage shootings.  No more envy and jealousy wrecking relationships. There’d be no need for police, court systems, or prisons.

What if children honored their parents because the parents respected and honored their children?  What if there were no need for Child Protection Services?  What if families stayed intact, not torn apart by lack of fidelity on the parents’ parts?  

I know I’m dreaming.  We’re sinners.  We’re never going to be perfect.  But what if we took another look at God’s commandments and saw their relevance to our lives today?  Would we be any more likely to take them seriously?

Today’s Gospel reading presents us with an interpretation of the Parable of the Sower highlighting the various types of soil God’s word encounters as it sown.   What kind of soil resides in your heart when it comes to God’s commandments? 

No comments: