Saturday, July 1, 2017

Is Anything Too Marvelous For The LORD To Do?

I believe one of the greatest sins we can commit is to limit God. What does that mean? To limit God is to believe that God thinks and views reality as you do. It is to believe that you, despite being a sinful, fallen human being, have the mind of God, and therefore, your views and opinions are on a par with the Mind of God. If you believe something is wrong, then it is wrong, If you believe something is right, then it is right. If you believe something can't be done, then it can't be done. Limiting God actually breaks the First Commandment - have no other gods before me - because you are making yourself into God.

Limiting God is the exact opposite of faith. Those who limit God say this is what God thinks and this is what God does, no more and no less. Faith says God is so far beyond my comprehension that I can't begin to fathom how He thinks. Faith says I am a sinner with a twisted, distorted and microscopically small view of reality. I am like an ant crawling on the ground with an ant's view of the world and the universe. An ant believes the only way to do things is the way he does them, by crawling around on the ground. Likewise, one who limits God, i.e. a faithless person, believes his way is the only way. If something doesn't fit into his understanding, then it can't be done. End of discussion.

The central message is today's readings teaches us why we cannot limit God. Further, the message from today's readings will free us from all doubt and worry, making us spiritually soar as eagles if we can only accept this beautiful message of a loving, unlimited God who will constantly surprise us.

The first reading is the story of three "men" coming to visit the patriarch Abraham to give him a very special message. Gen 18:1-15. Abraham is in his tent and sees the three men approach. Without thinking twice, he runs to meet them and offers them hospitality, making a meal for them of a freshly slain "tender, choice steer" and curds and milk.

Just as an aside, I find this fascinating because this is a completely unkosher meal, mixing meat and milk. Those under the Mosaic law and Jews today would be appalled at this, even though they consider Abraham their father. This shows that Abraham was not connected in any way to the Mosaic law, which ended at Christ's crucifixion. Abraham is part of the great spiritual law of Love given to us by Jesus Christ. The Mosaic law does not have spiritual promises of salvation. The Mosaic law is not about faith, as such. Abraham is the father of our faith (Romans 4:16).

After the three men ate Abraham's meal, they asked for Abraham's wife, Sarah. They then told Abraham that the following year Abraham and Sarah would have a son. Sarah overheard this and laughed. Why?
Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years,and Sarah had stopped having her womanly periods.So Sarah laughed to herself and said,"Now that I am so withered and my husband is so old,am I still to have sexual pleasure?"

Sarah was looking at things from her own point of view, like the ant on the ground.  In her eyes it was impossible for her to have a child, so therefore, it could not be done, and whoever thought differently was an idiot.  And certainly this would be the natural reaction of almost every other human being.

The next verse is very revealing:
But the LORD said to Abraham: "Why did Sarah laugh and say,'Shall I really bear a child, old as I am?'Is anything too marvelous for the LORD to do?At the appointed time, about this time next year, I will return to you,and Sarah will have a son."
The Lesson of Sarah and Abraham
First of all, notice that it is the LORD who is talking, meaning that the one who became Jesus Christ was one of the three men delivering this message to Abraham and Sarah.  The LORD then makes this tremendous statement:
Is anything too marvelous for the LORD to do?
Every time we think we know the mind of God, every time we are tempted to laugh at God as Sarah did, this is the question we must ask:  Is anything too marvelous for the LORD to do?

The message of the responsorial psalm is the mercy of God:  truly the most marvelous of all of the LORD's actions.  The verses are taken from Luke 1, otherwise known as Mary's Magnificat:  "The Lord has remembered His mercy."
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,'
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior."
R. The Lord has remembered his mercy.
"For he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name."
R. The Lord has remembered his mercy.
"He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty."
R. The Lord has remembered his mercy.
"He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever."
Like the first reading, today's Gospel is all about God doing what mortal man deems impossible. The first part of the gospel involves the Centurion who asks Christ to heal his servant, who is dying. The Centurion and his great display of faith is the answer to Sarah, who laughed at our Lord. Jesus offers to come to the Centurion's house, but the Centurion gives the famous reply which we repeat in each and every Mass:
"Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof;only say the word and my servant will be healed."

Do you believe this when you repeat it at Mass?  Do we believe we are such great sinners that we are not worthy to even be in the presence of God, but that with just one word from Jesus Christ we can be healed and made worthy?  Or do you believe this is only true for some people - specifically, people like you.   But other people are beyond the grasp of God and are worthy only of condemnation.

The Centurion went on to explain:
For I too am a man subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me.And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes;and to another, 'Come here,' and he comes;and to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it.
Jesus's response to the Centurion tells us that this is the definition of faith, of not limiting God in any way:
Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.
We are given one more example of the unlimited healing power of God.  Jesus goes to the house of Peter where Peter's mother in law is sick in bed.  Jesus merely touches her hand, and she is completely healed.

I, for one, am very tired of hearing people tell me what God thinks and how he acts, what he can and cannot do.  I don't know God's mind and neither do you.  Our job is make ourselves available to God, giving him every part of who we are - heart, mind and body - and allowing him to do things his way, not our way.  When we do that, there is no limit to what God can do.

We have been given absolute freedom in Jesus Christ, and the greatest freedom of all is to no longer be imprisoned in our own minds.  As we are told by St. Paul, we live by faith, not by sight (II Cor. 5:7).

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