I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | Scripture readings show what trust in God means

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God is always leading us from the familiar to the unfamiliar, from the known and trusted to the unknown and, therefore, to the fearful. If we knew the way to heaven, we would not need God to show us the way.

The reading from the Book of Wisdom begins to develop this theme. The author of the Book of Wisdom wrote, "The night of the Passover was known beforehand to our fathers." However, where did that knowledge come from? It came from God's revelation to Moses. This knowledge was very vague and enlisted them in a trust relationship with God.

When they were caught between the approaching Egyptian chariots and the Red Sea, they did not have a backup plan. They began to panic. Just when the people were ready to cave in and blame Moses, God told Moses to lift up his staff and split the sea in two, and the Israelites marched through the sea on dry land. "Your people awaited the salvation of the just and the destruction of their foes."

After the waters closed in on the pursuing Egyptians, can you not just imagine the Israelites looking back on what just happened and saying, "Wow, we have never seen anything like that before!"

In the second reading, the Book of Hebrews gives a very clear description of what trust in God is all about. "Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and the evidence of things not seen." He then uses the example of Abraham to illustrate what it means to trust in God.

It was difficult for Abraham to believe that he would be the father of a multitude of nations as he watched his wife Sarah remain sterile throughout her childbearing years and into old age. If that was not enough, when God gave Abraham a son in his old age, He demanded that Abraham sacrifice that son. When Abraham was willing to trust God in His latest demand, then God moved His covenant forward.

Hebrews tells us that Abraham "reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead, and he received Isaac back as a symbol." Translated, this means that God is able to do anything He desires to do, so why not trust Him so that His plan for our lives can move forward.

The Gospel begins with Jesus telling his disciples, "Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom." That kingdom will be given to those who stay alert and obedient to God's commands.

"Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like the servants who await their master's return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks." The fathers of the Church tell us that "to gird our loins" means to restrain our lustful appetites. To "have lamps burning," means that we are to be spiritually alive and alert, with hearts on fire for good works.

For what kingdom are we preparing ourselves when we nurture our flesh with pornography, endless sleazy movies and mindless diversions on video games? For what kingdom are we preparing when we engage in relentless anger and quarrels with family and co-workers? For what kingdom are we preparing if we spend all our energies to get ahead while not nurturing ourselves with God's direction for our lives?

For what kingdom are we preparing if we neglect prayer and fail to make attendance at Sunday Mass a top priority? For what kingdom are we preparing if we never give Jesus time to speak to our hearts about the kingdom of heaven? For what kingdom are we preparing if we never make a regular time for daily prayer?

When we neglect to give God time in our lives, we end up in darkness and self-loathing.

Faith demands that we invest time in coming to know and follow God's plan for our lives. His plan is filled with hope and joy. His plan leads us to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.

We come to know God's plan for our lives by obeying the teachings of the Church and by praying daily. We grasp God's plan so much more readily when we read His word in the Scriptures regularly.

Often it is very painful to obey His teachings rather than obey the demands of our unredeemed passions. Yet, that pain itself gives our spirits hope that we are on the correct way. That pain awakens us to the birth of the kingdom within. To face the choice of indulging the flesh or obeying God's commands is a life-changing moment.

When we say, "yes" to God's will, something inside feels nurtured and peaceful.

How do we know what God's will is on a daily basis? It is God's will that we obey His word and His teachings.

In addition to that, we are encouraged to see each passing moment of each day as a manifestation of God's will for our lives and embrace it. When we say "yes" to whatever God sends us and embrace it as God's will, we are filled with a great peace and joy.

Sometimes evil comes our way because of the sins of others. This is God's permissive will. When we embrace this as His permissive will, and also embrace the pain it entails and unite it with Christ's suffering on the cross, then we are truly doing God's will, just as Jesus embraced the cross for our salvation.

The next time someone sins against you, embrace that suffering and offer it up for that person's salvation. That is what real faith is all about. 

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