As I read through the scripture for today, I easily find myself falling into certain roles. In the first reading I find myself as a person in occupied Israel in the 8th Century BC. I find myself complacent and feeling guilty that my countrymen and I have gotten what we deserved. In the Psalm, I can imagine myself in the role of a person besieged calling on God for help. In the Gospel, I find myself as a member of the crowd that is being chastised by Jesus for the way I judge.
I am well aware of how close (or distant) that I am in my relationship with my God. I have days when the connection is there. Generally things seem to function better when I am in that state. I have other days when I have distanced myself from my Lord. On these days I often feel that the difficulties I experience are a consequence. I draw a connection between my thoughts and actions, and my experience of the world around me. Intellectually I have problems with the idea of “karma”, but my feelings give me a sense that I live in a world where God plays a role in history and continues to be active today.
In the first reading we see the Northern Kingdom of Israel has fallen. The people have lost the connection with their God. Their leader has failed. The nation is fragmented. This condition is blamed on the actions of the people.
The psalm response brings us to a later point in the history of Israel. The psalmist expresses the frustration of a people feeling defeated in battle. There are calls for God’s assistance. We are left with a sense of a renewed awareness of the essential nature of the connection to God and the limitations of human endeavors.
The Gospel takes us in a different direction. We are called to be self-reflective rather than the bearer of judgment. The most annoying things I find in other people are generally things that I find or have found in myself. I often learn a lot about myself when I am aware of my less favorable experiences of others. As a scientist I classify and try to identify patterns. These classifications and patterns often permit reliable predictions. Success in one area may not carry over into others. I often cross this line. When the actions of another may leave me frustrated, I find it a challenge to distinguish between the cases where my action is best served by learning through self-reflection or recognizing a call for justice in this world.
My prayer today is for the strength and the will to keep my connection with God close and open. I pray for the ability to identify which directions are the best. I ask for forgiveness for the times that I have wrongly judged. Finally I pray for the insight to correctly recognize God’s strengths and my limitations.
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