Monday of the 28th Week in Ordinary Time
Romans 1:1-7 ; Psalm 97; Luke 11:29-32
What a contrast a week makes! Last Monday we heard two stories about the good Samaritan and Jonah. The first was about a foreigner who was used as an example on how to be a good neighbour to others. The other was a messenger who was to bring God’s message to foreigners but decided to run away instead. Later in the week we heard that he repented and did his job pretty well. Both stories showed one thing – that foreigners or non-Jews could be as good as those who deem themselves as God’s chosen ones and who sometimes take things for granted.
We see some of that in today’s readings. The Lord seems somewhat frustrated as he calls the people around him a ‘wicked generation’ who want a sign as proof of God’s word. This was addressed to the Jews of the time who were supposed to be faithful but seemed less so than other foreigners like the Ninevites and the Queen of Sheba. Could these foreigners be better than the supposed faithful?
Given this, I wondered how the Jews might have felt with such criticism leveled at them. Outraged? Indignant? Probably, given what they ended up doing to the Lord later. But I also wonder how we would feel if the Lord said the same things to us right now. After all, don’t we sometimes ask for signs to see if we should do things or not? We ask God not to put us to the test yet we test God quite often. Could the Lord also be saying that others of different faith traditions are actually following him better than we are? If we were told this, would we feel uncomfortable or even defensive? If it were true, we might want to examine why the Lord would say that of us. Are we too comfortable in our faith? Has our faith become somewhat lukewarm?
The danger of course is to have our faith lapse into a dangerous lukewarm comfort-zone that lulls us into a false sense of well-being. Is our faith like a couch potato, watching, sitting comfortably without ever wanting to move out of whatever comfort zone that we’re in. What happens when we become couch potato Christians? We get lazy in the practice of our faith and allow that to get diluted and lax. God becomes something we can turn on or off with a remote control like we would a TV. We just wait for things to happen and hope that our faith survives.
We proclaimed and responded ‘The Lord has made known his salvation’ in the psalm and indeed, the Lord has as St Paul reminds us. If we know about this salvation, then shouldn’t we go out and excitedly proclaim this to all nations? What are we doing sitting on our couches doing nothing. St Paul says that we should proclaim grace and peace to others and perhaps it’s the last two things that can help us get out of our proverbial couches.
Grace is the tangible experience of God’s love and the recognition that it’s a gift to us. Peace is the wholeness and harmony that comes from being united with God. St Paul blesses us with it, telling us that we should seek to spread this to others. He tells the gentile Romans that they too receive such blessings so even us with our couch-potato faith can have the grace and peace, if we want to receive it. Can we quieten down enough to get off our high horse (in thinking that we’re better than others) and break our comfortable routines (of being lukewarm and lax) to start recognising that God is indeed love and acting in accordance with that? We’re invited to be open and to seek wholeness in God through our actions.
Have we gotten off our couches yet? Are we going to?
Today’s prayer from the Office seems apt: Lord God, who entrusted the earth to us to till it and care for it and made the all things to serve our needs; give us the grace this day to work for your glory and foe our neighbours’ good.