Sunday, July 26, 2020

You say/God says

(Seventeenth Sunday of the Year (A): This homily was given on July 26, 2020 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I., by Fr. Raymond Suriani.  Read 1 Kings 3:5, 7-12; Psalm 119; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Seventeenth Sunday 2020]

The meditation I will share with you in my homily today I received via email a number of years ago.  I share it this morning for two reasons.  First of all, it makes reference to a very important verse in today’s second reading (which is taken from chapter 8 of St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans).  The verse I’m talking about is verse 28, which is rendered as follows: “Brothers and sisters: We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”

All things!  Not some things; not many things; not most things—but ALL things!

Notice he didn’t say that everything we experience in this life is good.  Paul would never have said that.  He was a realist.  Rather, he said that in some mysterious way all the experiences we have in this life—the good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the exhilarating, the discouraging, the disappointing, the depressing—ALL OF THEM—will work together for our spiritual benefit, if our love for God is genuine and we’re striving to do the Lord’s will in our lives. 

So that’s the first and primary reason I’m sharing this meditation today: because it mentions Romans 8:28.  But I’m also sharing it for another reason: because I think it’s a powerful testimony to the importance of reading the Bible.  If we read God's Word on a regular basis—and believe what we read—it will make a monumental difference in our lives.  As this reflection indicates, the benefits will be physical and psychological, as well as spiritual.

For lack of a better title, you might choose to call this meditation “You say/God says”

You say, "It's impossible."
God says, "What's impossible for human beings is possible for me."  (That’s based on Luke 18:27)

You say, "I'm too tired."
God says, "I will give you rest."  (Matthew 11:28)

You say, "I can't do it."
God says, "You can do all things through Christ."  (Philippians 4:13)

You say, "I'm always worried and frustrated."
God says, "Cast all your cares on me."  (1 Peter 5:7)

You say, "I feel all alone."
God says, "I will never forsake you or abandon you." (Hebrews 13:5)

You say, "I'm not smart enough."
God says, "I . . . shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute."  (Luke 21:15)

You say, "I'm afraid."
God says, "I have not given you a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and love and self-control." 
(2 Timothy 1:7)

You say, "I can't figure things out."
God says, "I will direct your steps if you trust me."  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

You say, "I can't go on."
God says, "My grace is sufficient for you."  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

You say, "Nobody loves me."
God says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love."  (Jeremiah 31:3)

You say, "I don't have enough faith."
God says, "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed you can move mountains."  (Matthew 17:20)

You say, "I can't be forgiven."
God says, "Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool."  (Isaiah 1:18)

And finally:
You say, "Nothing good can possibly come out of my trials and sufferings and mistakes."
God says, "If you truly love me, everything in your life will work together for good, and that includes your trials, your sufferings and your mistakes."  (Romans 8:28)

I should add here that even our sins can work for our good in this life—if we repent of those sins, and learn from those sins, and then strive to grow in holiness each and every day.

To accent the importance of his message, Jesus often ended his sermons by saying, "Whoever has ears ought to hear."  (Cf. Matthew 13:9)  Today I end my homily with similar words: "Whoever has problems (and who doesn't?!) ought to read the Bible every day, to find out what God says."