October 13, 2019 (Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time)
The Lord has revealed to the nations His saving power …
Greetings to you, my dear friends in Christ. How often do we stop to recognize the presence of God in our lives right here in central Wisconsin? Sometimes we can easily see God’s goodness to us – in a peaceful moment during a beautiful autumn sunset, in a treestand, holding our grandchild, watching our children strive and achieve greatness, pausing to pray before a scrumptious dinner, seeing the Cardinals advance to the NLCS or the Packers beating the Lions, visiting a friend, and so many other blessed times.
But sometimes, God’s presence is not so clear, and His blessings for us may not come in the way we would have chosen or expected. I might be tempted to say, “Excuse me God, but I think You made a mistake here. What You should have done is …”
I’m reminded of a little story of the man caught on his rooftop during a deadly flood. He cried out – asking God to come and save him. God then told the man that He would indeed come and would rescue him. Shortly thereafter, a rowboat came by, and the oarsman invited the man to hop in and come to safety. The man responded, “No, thank you. God is coming to get me.” A short time later, a helicopter came by and lowered a ladder, and the pilot instructed the man to grab hold and ride to safety, but the man again refused, saying, “Nope, God Himself said that He would come to get me.”
Finally, the waters rose too high, and the man drowned. When he saw God, he complained bitterly, “I thought You were coming to rescue me!” The Lord responded, “Well, I sent you the boat and the helicopter, but you refused … what more should I have done?” In the account of Naaman the Syrian, God’s prophet Elisha had told Naaman to go wash in the Jordan seven times in order to be healed of leprosy. Naaman – thinking that God wouldn’t work that way – complained that there were better rivers than the Jordan. But he finally consented, and went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times at the word of Elisha, the man of God. His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean of his leprosy.
What we see is that Elisha’s command did not make sense to Naaman, but in the end, Naaman obeyed and – true to His word – God healed him. Sometimes, what the Catholic Church teaches might not be understood by some – it may even seem like nonsense. But the same thing happens today as in Elisha’s time: God keeps His word that is given through the Barque (Boat) of Peter. Those seven Sacraments really do what God says they will do – they reveal to the nations (and to us) His saving power. For This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him. But if we deny him he will deny us. If we are unfaithful he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.
Peace to all of you, my friends, this Holy Day, and to all who love the Lord in simplicity of heart,