February 17, 2019
6th Sunday Ordinary Time
Sunday 10 am & 4:30 pm
Jeremiah 17:5-8; 1 Cor 15:12, 16-20; Luke 6:17, 20-26
A tourist came too close to the edge of the Grand Canyon, lost his footing and fell over the side, clawing & scratching to save himself. Somehow he was able to grab hold of a small branch. Filled with terror he called out, “Is there anyone up there?” Can anyone help me? He heard a reassuring voice, “I’m here the Lord your God…but before I help you I want to know if you believe in me.” The man answered, “Lord, I certainly believe in you. I go to mass every Sunday, I read my Bible and I pray. I even put a few dollars in the collection basket.” The Lord replied, “But do you really believe in me?” The man was desperate, “Lord, I believe in you, I believe in you!!!” The Lord said, “Good…then let go of the branch.” The man was silent for a minute…then yelled out, “Is there anyone else up there?!!” (Let go and trust in God).
From Jeremiah we heard, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord.” In other words, blessed is the one who lets go of the branch. But we also heard from Jeremiah, “Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord.” Jeremiah shows the contrast between a person that trusts in God for all things and in all situations versus the person who trusts in created things rather than the Creator. At the time of Jeremiah the people of Israel were going through a very difficult period and instead of trusting in God they turned to other nations and other things. And as we know, that didn’t turn out too well for them…So the question for us is “what do we trust in?” Do we turn to God and trust in Him for all things or do we place our trust in things that are passing away? The choice is ours. As Jeremiah puts it, when we trust in everything except God, even though it may seem ok for a while, we are like “a barren bush in the desert” (no life within us, eventually will dry up and wither away.) So in what do we place our trust in? Ourselves, other people, our own intelligence, our money? These are not bad things, it’s just that we must trust in God above all these things.
Trusting in the Lord is not easy. Letting go is not easy. On the contrary, it is difficult, especially when trials & tough times hit. Jeremiah says the one who trusts in the Lord “is like a tree planted beside waters that stretches out its roots to the stream. It fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green, in the year of drought it shows no distress but still bears fruit.” Have you ever seen a tree on the side of a cliff? It stays there firm not wavering even in strong wind & rain. Why? Because its roots are deep underground stretching out making it strong. That’s like a person who places all his or her trust in the Lord for all things and all situations, stretching out their “roots of faith” to Jesus the living stream. When the strong storms or the extreme heat of trials hit that person they do not waver because their roots are established in God…But the tree doesn’t wait to stretch out its roots just before the storm hits! It’s gradual, steady, a daily growth. Just as we cannot wait but need to establish our roots of trust in Jesus. It must also be daily, gradual & steady…And the storms will hit! The scripture said, “It fears not the heat when it comes.” It’s not if the storm or the extreme heat will come, it’s when it will come. We know in life stuff happens. The Lord allows us to go through different seasons in our lives so that we will learn to trust in Him, so that we will learn to rely upon Him and Him alone. No matter if it is health problems, or finances, or relationship issues, work or school problems, if we place our trust and hope in Him always, we will make it through and we will be stronger on the other side, when the storm subsides. No matter what we go through, even it doesn’t turn out the way we think it should, with Him we will have the peace that only He can give…*There is a beautiful contemporary Christian song by Ryan Stevenson with the lyrics,
“In the eye of the storm, You remain in control,
And in the middle of the war You guard my soul,
You alone are the anchor when my sails are torn,
Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm.”
Even in the eye of the storm He is on the throne. He’s got this. Trust in Him.
And also, to help us to learn to trust in Him before the storms or extreme heat hit so that our faith roots are stretched far & strong He gives us countless opportunities to share our gifts and our treasure. To let go of those branches that we hold on so tight to. He always provides for all of our needs showing us that we can trust in Him. My wife & I were praying about & discussing how much to pledge for this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal. We decided on an amount and made our commitment trusting that God would provide. A few days after that I received an unexpected cash award at work that will cover the pledged amount & then some! Trust in God, He will always provide. When we do it brings us peace during good times but especially during difficult times.
In the Gospel from Luke Jesus gives us a teaching that will bring us peace & happiness as He gives us the choice between the “Beatitudes” and the “Woes”. As we were shown contrast in Jeremiah, Jesus contrasts blessings and curse…The word Beatitude comes from the Latin for “blessing” and the word “blessed” broken down to its simplest meaning is “happiness”. So blessings, true happiness and peace can only be found in trusting in the Lord God & living according to His will. But then in contrast Jesus gives the “Woes” which means grief or unhappiness…The choice is ours: totally trust in Jesus or not, blessing or curse, peace or anxiety, Kingdom of God which is eternal or kingdom of the world which is passing away…The Lord God is challenging us today to let go of the branch and trust in Him fully which gives us true happiness in this life as we look forward to the next with Him.
But the truth is we can’t trust a person we do not know. If someone knocks at your door late at night and asks to come in, you don’t know him. You can’t trust him. But if it is a friend that you know very well you will certainly invite him in because you trust him. The same is true with Jesus. He knocks on the door of our heart and our life and asks to come in. The more you know Him, the more you trust Him. The more you know His love for you & that He only wants the best for you.
I close with the words spoken through Jeremiah, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord.”