The first two readings and the responsorial Psalm reveal, in a wonderful way, the nature of the Triune God’s heart for us. By inspiring Isaiah with this amazing analogy, He dispels for us any possible thought that He chooses to be distant from us or abandon us: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” It is virtually a universally acknowledged reality—the love of a mother for her child. Yet even if this bedrock foundation, this most crucial relationship, should fail, even then He will not forget us. So, even if the impossible happens, it is ‘more impossible’ that our Lord would forget His people! That doesn’t simply mean us as a people, but us as unique individuals, precious to Him.
The responsorial Psalm echoes this reality, i.e. that His ongoing Presence is rock for us and foundation for our lives. This includes the promise that if we chose to remain in Him, we “shall not be disturbed at all.” As the Psalmist proclaims, only in Him can we be at rest. The great St. Augustine will echo this theme centuries later in his pivotal proclamation: “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts will not rest until they rest in You.”
The Gospel, however, reminds us that none of this is automatic, that while it is the case that the Triune God is always the initiator, the inviter, it requires a response from us to make this promised relationship operational.
The Lord Jesus reminds us that it is all about choice, our choice, and gives us an example of the kind of choice we need to make; in this case, the choice to put Him first above material possessions. That might be an issue for some, but there are plenty of other contenders for the place of honor in our hearts, the point being that only the Lord Jesus has the right to that place of honor and only our choice, our ongoing choice, can place Him and keep Him in that place of honor in the center of our lives. This is why every day we begin our day by getting on our knees and surrendering to Him, pleading with Him to reign in us as Lord, Savior, and friend. It is precisely to continue to empower that relationship that He gives us His Holy Spirit when we choose to be fully His. That Spirit provides the ‘glue’ that holds our relationship with Him together and empowers us to not only walk with Him as individuals, but to pursue the mission He has for each of us. For, as the second reading points out, we do have a mission, each of us, because we are “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” The greatest mystery that we are stewards of is personal relationship with the Triune God. To be the heralds of the Good News ultimately means to be the ones whose lives and words are used by Him to bring other people to Himself. The necessary agent for this is the Holy Spirit.
We have just celebrated the beginning of a great jubilee year for us, a year that begins with commemorating an event 50 years ago; whose grace has now touched 120 million Catholics around the world. As with all jubilees, this is not simply a remembrance of events in times past; it is a promise of a reality for the present and for the future. In this case, the reality is walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, surrendered to the King of Kings. We have been gifted with this Spirit through our Baptism and Confirmation and we are now called to release the gifts we have been given, to work with them, guiding them to maturity, so that we are good stewards of this great mystery. As we continue to experience the fruits of this jubilee, let us continue to plead with Him for the grace we need to serve Him well, in the power of the Holy Spirit! Giving Him the one gift we can give to Him: letting Him use us to bring others to surrender to the King of Kings and walk in the power of His Holy Spirit. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! — Fr. Ed
In this blog post, Fr. Ed references the Sunday readings many times. Click here to read the readings for the 8th Sunday of Ordinary time.