Romans 8:31B-39; Psalms 109: 21-22, 26-27, 30-31; Luke 13: 31-3
“Blessed is he who come in the name of the Lord” (Lk 13:35). These are beautiful and comforting words from Jesus; we sing them in the Holy, Holy, Holy, or Sanctus, during the liturgy of the Eucharist. During this part of the Mass, I try to picture the angles and saints in heaven singing along with us, giving praise, adoration, and thanksgiving to our merciful God. It provokes a warm and fuzzy, comforting feeling and it reminds me that we are a part of an amazing family, both here on earth and in heaven; God’s family. Yet, if we back up and start at the beginning of today’s gospel, that warn fuzzy feelings disappears. Jesus has sharp words for the Pharisees who are warning him to leave Jerusalem. He has just finished rebuking them, reminding them of their sins, and their hardness of hearts, and telling them that it is not easy to get into heaven. It is understandable that they are not too happy with Jesus; it is hard to hear how we have failed and it takes great humility to stand undefended while someone reprimands us. So they try to get him to leave. They are unwilling to change their ways, they would prefer this man who challenges them to just go away, and yet he doesn’t. He knows that he is exactly where he needs to be; that this is the place where salvation will spring forth from His cross. The place where prophets have been killed and God’s people turn away from Him, even as he tries to gather them to himself in love and mercy; this is where it is all going to happen.
This got me wondering, where in my own life do I fail to let God in? Where is it that I would rather not be challenged by the carrying of my cross on the narrow path, the path after the very feet of our Lord? Do I, like the Pharisees, sometimes ask Jesus to go away? Not in so many words, but in my actions that keep my heart far from him? Am I too attached to my earthly belongings? Too comforts? Too food or drink? Am I impatient with my husband, children, with other drives on the road, with myself? When I fail in these ways, do I forget to turn immediately to my father in heaven and cry out to him? We all have struggles, and God knows our struggles even better than we know them ourselves; and yet in our human weakness we may forget to call on Him, and to hope in Him, and to praise Him. We may forget to see our stumbling blocks as lessons that allow us to practice the virtues and that bring us closer to God. We don’t need to fear, God will never leave us, but we do need to work on our relationship with Him. We can take great comfort in the words of St. Paul to the Romans:
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angles, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (13:38).
For those of us who have been claimed for Christ through our baptism, we really can’t be separated from God, we are truly part of His family. This doesn’t mean that we don’t fail to follow Him at times; we can, however, take rest in Him, even after falling down. Just as Jesus knew that Jerusalem was the place He needed to be to bring about salvation, He knows where we need Him the most. We need to remain patient with ourselves, always hopeful, always trusting in our Lord’s clemency and calling out, “Save me O Lord, in your mercy: (PS 109:26)! And we need sing His praise,
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.