Year B: Twenty Second Sunday
Pope Francis often reminds us that God's “style” has three elements: closeness, compassion and tenderness. God doesn’t remain in the clouds, far away. He wants to be near us. He wants to be with us. That’s his style – he comes close to us, feels what we are going through and shows us tenderness. In the first reading today, Moses too says that what great nation is there that has its gods so near as the Lord our God is to us whenever we call to him?
If we know God is close, then we can live life with a greater peace. There’s the story of the child on a ship. A storm blows up and everyone is tossed and turned. But the small child stands there calmly. People ask: “but are you not worried”. “Ah no”, he replies, “my dad is captain of the ship”.
But we could ask is there a way we can keep close to God? The second reading reminds us of the Word of God. Perhaps we don’t always think of this enough. The Word of God is a way God is close to us. If we read the word of God, keep it in mind and try to put it into practice, then we find ourselves close to God.
Mary had an experience a while ago that shows just that: ‘In my office there was a man who made fun of religion every time he could. He knew I went to Mass on Sundays and that my faith meant a lot to me. So he used to direct his comments at me in particular. One day he asked me to borrow my car to get to an interview. My first reaction was to be amazed he had the cheek to ask me of all people. His remarks had often been so humiliating. Then I remembered Jesus’ words: 'love your enemies—because if you love those who love you what reward will you have?’
So having made a decision to do just that, I put my car keys in an envelope for him with a note saying I was glad to be of help and that I wished him well at his interview. The next day he came and stood at my desk and said: ‘There are two things I want to say: first of all, I got the job and it's due to your kindness. Thank you. Secondly, I'll never again make fun of anyone's religion.’
Mary’s living of the Word brought her close to God and brought close to that colleague at work.
A final point from today’s readings is that we must live our faith from our heart. It can never simply be a matter of rules and regulations. Otherwise, we could fall into the trap of hypocrisy. We’d be claiming to be Christians but our hearts would be otherwise. Again, if we keep the Word of God in mind, that helps us purify our heart.
So why not take away one sentence from the readings and try to keep it in mind throughout the week. Let this Word be like a compass for you when you’ve to go about your daily life or make special decisions. The word of God keeps God close to you, keeps you close to God and makes sure your heart is set on God.