Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Seeing God At Work

Wednesday: 18 July, 2012 –– 15th Week in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 10:5–7, 13b–16  / Matthew 11:25–27
Seeing God At Work
God is at work in our world all the time. It is a gift of faith to be able to recognize this. Not everyone has faith, and embryonic faith needs to be nurtured beyond a basic belief in “God.”
Scripture gives us stories of God at work. Here we can see details chronicled by people whose relationships with God withstood the test of time. But when we read the details, we find that God’s ways are not easy to understand. God says exactly this in another part of Isaiah’s prophecies –– that his thoughts and ways are above ours.
There are hard things in God-stories. In today’s Isaiah passage we are told that God is using Assyria –– a pagan and profane empire –– to chastise Israel. The pagans think they are acting on their own power, and God promises to straighten out their thinking on that later. But in the meantime, God is going to allow Assyria to do some hard and awful things to Israel.
This seems to be in conflict with a more narrow understanding of God at work: God is at work in our world all the time for our good. Why, then, the hard things? It is important here to focus on the word “good.”  It is human nature for us to want to define “good” according to our own measure. We think something is good if it is pleasant, comfortable or convenient. We are short-sighted.  We too quickly focus on the things that affect us immediately.
God is working for our good beyond right now –– even beyond this world as we now know it. Another way to say that “God is at work all the time for our good” is to say “God is at work all the time for our salvation.” This is our greatest good.
If God needs to work through hard things to break our sense of self-sufficiency and our stubbornness in choosing our own way, then that is a good thing to do. When God lets us see or even taste a bit of the effect of rebellion (i.e., the repercussions of sin), then that is a saving thing to do.
In Jesus Christ, we see the working of God (and his full character) compressed into a single human life. In the teachings and examples of Jesus we see perfect goodness. In Jesus’ death on the cross we see the repercussion of our self-will and and rebellion. Jesus gives us the context to understand all the other God-stories. In Jesus Christ we see God at work in our world for our salvation.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus himself rejoiced in prayer to the Father, exclaiming that it is faith that lets a person see these things. God is at work in our world all the time.... for our good.... for our salvation. The Father sent the Son. The Son shows us the Father. It is the gift of faith that enables us to “see.”  If you can see, be thankful. If you can see, show it in the way you live.

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