Allowing God to stay at our side
Some thoughts from the readings for the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time in Year B, 3 October 2021.
Readings: Genesis 2:18–24; Psalm 128: 1–6; Hebrews 2:9–11; Mark 10:2–16.
God is at our side
Two thousand years ago, before the first Christmas, most religions were designed to keep the gods at a safe distance. Pagan religions conceived of the gods as powerful, unpredictable, and dangerous. Your best bet was to lay low and to hope that the gods did not notice you, because if they did, they would invariably cause trouble.
But when Our Lord Jesus Christ came to earth, He revealed to us the truth about God. The truth is that God is not some kind of divine ogre; the truth is that God is on our side. He is our Father. He created us, He redeemed us, and He is lovingly interested in everything that we do. In the Epistle reading we are reminded of the undeniable proof that this is the case: the Incarnation, Passion, Death, and Resurrectino of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
God Himself, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, chose to become man in the womb of the Blessed Virgin mary. He chose to become our brother and to share in the sufferings that we all experience in this fallen world. He chose to walk by our sides.
Look at the conversation He had with the Pharisees in today’s Gospel. He patiently discusses with them a point of theology. He lowers Himself to their level, trying to get them to understand God’s plan for their lives, for marriage, for the family. What humility! What goodness He shows in giving those hypocrites so much attention.
Our Lord Jesus Christ didn’t come into our world ot make our lives miserable, to cause us trouble, or to condemn us. No. He comes to save us, to offer us His friendship, a friendship that will give us hope, wisdom, mercy, joy, and the key to everlasting life. That’s the kind of God we have gathered today to worship. That’s the kind of Lord that we follow.
St Vicenta Maria Lopez gets an early start
This burning desire of our Lord to walk by our sides, to be involved in our lives, is something that is reflected especially well in the lives of the saints. One especially eloquent example is found in the life of St Vicenta Maria Lopez, who lived in Spain in the 1800s.
As an only child of noble parents, she received a good education. Later in life, she founded a religious order dedicated to caring for poor girls— providing them with a stable and safe place to live, and giving them enough education so that they could find decent employment. It was an urgent apostolate for nineteenth century Spain. At the time, the industrial revolution was wreaking havoc on the traditional farming economy. Destitute peasant girls, dirt poor, neglected and vulnerable, were streaming into the citis looking for work. Many took up lodging wherever they could, and often fell in with bad company, becoming mired in lives of sin.
The fact that St Vicenta founded a religious order to care for them is not the most remarkable thing about her story. The truly remarkable aspect is when she started this type of work. She was seven years old and her family went to visit an aunt in Madrid. That aunt had started a care centre for these poor girls, called the Casita. As soon as Vicenta saw the girls, most of whom were older than her, she began to help her aunt to befriend and to take care of them. By the time Vicenta was ten she was working in the Casita almost full time.
St Vicenta was a shining mirror—even as a child—of God’s buring desire to walk at our sides, to share our lives, to be our companions through life’s difficult journey.
Staying close through the Eucharist
God wants to walk at our sides. He wants to be close to us as we journey through life, guiding, inspiring, teaching, and strengthening us. He wants to be a personal trainer for each one of us, leading us towards spiritual health and maturity. This is what God wants to be for us, how can we allow it to happen?
It is true that we do not have Our Lord Jesus Christ with us in the same way that Our Lady and the Apostles did—we cannot hear his footsteps beside us as we walk down the street.
But in his goodness and wisdom, he has found a way to continue to abide with us: he lives in our midst, in our neighborhoods, on our streets, through the Eucharist.
At every Mass, Christ becomes truly present in the Host: body and blood; soul, and divinity. When we receive Holy Communion, we really are receiving a transfusion of God’s own life into our weak and wounded souls. After Mass, he continues to stay with us. That is why in some churches, the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. The consecrated hosts are reserved precisely because Our Lord Jesus Christ wants to stay with us, to stay at our sides, to that at any time, we can come here and sit with Him. He is here for us to be our light and our life, as sanctuary lamps the world over remind us.
If we stay close to the Eucharist, through frequent reception of Holy Communion, and periodic visits to the Blessed Sacrament reserved, will we not give Him the chance that He needs to walk by our sides and fill us with His courage, wisdom, and peace.
As He renews His commitment to us during the Eucharist today, let us thank Him for the great gift of the Blessed Sacrament. Let us promise that this week, starting today, we will use it well.