November 4-5, 2017

Oct 31, 2017

An important message in today’s Gospel reading is that we need to remember WHO we are and WHOSE we are. (Matthew 23:1-12) This is a message we too quickly forget; we are children of God and we belong to God. How simple this message is! Yet, how quickly we forget! 

One reason we forget is that we tend to get distracted and caught up in the details which we often call “minutiae.” These “little things” distract us from the larger message. We do not see “the forest because of the trees,” as the old proverb goes. For example, how many times haven’t we heard people argue that we should not call priests “father.” According to some people, if you take Jesus’ words literally, the Scriptures forbid calling anyone on earth “father” or “teacher.” Only God deserves these titles, they contend. The deeper message, however, is that we remember that God is our first and foremost Father, and we, His children, are sisters and brothers to one another. Sometimes we focus on the metaphor, the language, instead of the message; we see the outside but do not look at the inside. And so it is in every day conduct and conversations with one another. We look at the package and do not see the product. We describe the personality of someone but fail to discern the person! In our efforts (mostly unconscious) to divinize ourselves, we feel it necessary to demonize others. 

Maybe we can uncover another common misperception we human beings struggle with. When we are asked to obey God or to follow the commands of Jesus, the ultimate reason behind this is to help us do our work effectively, efficiently, and successfully. Thus, our obedience (listening) is for our own good. God doesn’t need our obedience; WE DO! Our conforming to the way God made us to be assures our well-being, our happiness. We forget this. We often perceive that when we are told what to do or how to live, it is for someone else’s benefit and because of someone else’s whim. In reality, it is often for our own good, our safety, our growth, our progress in life. Again, God doesn’t need our obedience; WE have the need, and it is for our own good! “Do your homework; go to bed early; follow the speed limit; don’t do drugs; keep away from the salty and sugary snacks; get your eyes checked; wear your seat-belt; go to church;…….these all are directions, admonitions for our happiness, security, growing into a mature human being. And this happiness begins now, not just in heaven. Learning how to be happy and to enjoy happiness begins by LISTENING to the voice of God rather than the voice of my ego that tells me to do whatever “feels” good to me, that is, whatever I want. Our egos live only for the here and now. The voices of our egos tend to drive out the voice of God, and God wants what is really good for us, a good that lasts. God wants a good for us that will bring us ultimate fulfillment and peace. “If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts.” (Psalm 95) 

Fr. Dennet