“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.” ~Thomas à Kempis
Gospel text (Lk 17,1-6): Jesus said to his disciples,
"Things that cause sin will inevitably occur,
but woe to the one through whom they occur.
It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck
and he be thrown into the sea
than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.
Be on your guard!
If your brother sins, rebuke him;
and if he repents, forgive him.
And if he wrongs you seven times in one day
and returns to you seven times saying, "I am sorry,"
you should forgive him."
And the Apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."
The Lord replied, "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you."
While studying the readings for today at Mass, I noticed a common theme: God’s presence in our lives. Not just when we pray or go to church, but in the smallest, most seemingly insignificant of moments. Not just when we’re on our best behavior and doing everything as we ought, but when we disobey and ignore him.
I’m afraid we often see God as disconnected, separate from us in his Kingdom in the sky, if you will. Being reminded of his constant presence thus initially gave me pause; I did not like the idea that God was watching my every stumble and failure, knowing “when I sit and when I stand” and aware of every thought and word before it even enters my mind. To have all my shortcomings laid out, completely bare, before the one that I desire to please the most, sounds awful. I found myself wondering how I could hide, much like in Psalms 139:7, “Where can I go from your spirit? From your presence where can I flee?” My options, it appears are limited, for “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I sink to the nether world, you are present there.”
But the more I read, the more I found to comfort my agitation. God may be there to see every fault and mistake, but he is also steadfastly there to pick us up again and set us on the right path. In the Responsorial Psalm, the response says, “guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.” It is a plea for God’s assistance but also a guarantee that he will always be there to help. “If I take the wings of the dawn, if I settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall guide me, and your right hand hold me fast.” In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells us that as many times as another sins against us but then asks for forgiveness, we are to forgive him. This is an illustration of what God does for us; he is always there to guide and forgive us. All we have to do is ask in the Sacrament of Reconciliation!
And that is a comforting thought indeed.