Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” (Mk 8:33b) What does God think? For many years, I didn’t care much about what God thinks. But when I faced the death of my wife Maria, I begged Him for mercy. An old friend from high school quoted the following scripture from the Book of Isaiah to me after she died:
Let them turn to the LORD to find mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways,
my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Is 55:7b-9)
Many people who have shared their faith journeys with me met Jesus when they reached a low point in their life. My death will be much easier for me to face. That is what I now see as grace. That is not thinking as humans do, but as God does.
“Now the natural person does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God, for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it, because it is judged spiritually. The spiritual person, however, can judge everything but is not subject to judgment by anyone.
For ‘who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to counsel him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor 2:14-16) If we have the mind of Christ, then we have been taught by God. No one can come to Jesus unless they are taught. (see Jn 6:44-47) How does God teach us? He does it through His Church, the Church He gave authority to teach the truth regarding faith and morals. One fundamental teaching about morality that many people don’t currently understand, is that the ends do not justify the means. You can’t do something evil to achieve something good. You can’t say abortion or any other intrinsically evil act is ever acceptable or good. These acts aren’t unforgivable, but they are always evil, and they always cause grave harm. Only God can take something evil and turn it to the good. We can’t do that. That’s why we need God to save us.
No one can go to the Father except through Jesus. (see Jn 14:6) We must enter through the narrow gate, through the Cross. (see Mt 7:13-14) We must deny ourselves and empty ourselves. (see Phil 2:5-11) Like Jesus, we must obey God and die for the love of Him, and He will raise us to eternal life. To embrace the Cross is to understand and accept suffering and death as things that will not last. (see 1 Pet 1:6) What does last is the love of God that leads to eternal life. God is love of us, love through us, and love in us. God is for us. He is not for Himself. He empties Himself for us. He holds none of His infinity back and offers it all to us. But we must receive it. When you receive this self-gift of God, you realize you don’t need anything more because there is nothing more than God. What are you holding on to now? What is preventing you from receiving God? Being Republican or Democrat? Being male or female? “For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise.” (Gal 3:26-29) You can’t save yourself. Nobody in this world can. Christ came into the world to do it. Do you belong to Christ? If you do, then you will think and act like God.