Today’s readings reinforce the feeling that my connection to God is through a personal relationship, rather than through some cosmic ledger.
As I find my way in the reading from Ezekiel, I can imagine myself as member of the crowd that Ezekiel addresses. Ezekiel makes the point that the consequences of sin reside with the perpetrator. Our sin is not something that we pass on to our descendants. This is not the model where our worldly fortune may be an indicator of our spiritual fortune. I take these thoughts one step farther. Financial inheritance or lack of inheritance may determine where we fit in our society. It may make growing up easier. It may allow us to more easily avoid acts of desperation. I had kind, loving and generous parents. I was and I remain fortunate having been born into the home that I was. Certainly the way that I was raised will affect my choices, but I do not see what I have been given by my parents as a sign of God’s favor (although I would like to). My relationship with God is my choosing.
In Psalm 51, I imagine myself in the role of the psalmist. I can identify with the refrain asking God for a clean heart. But this is not enough. I desire the relationship. The clean heart is just one aspect of what goes into the relationship. What matters most is the personal connection. The psalmist begs for God’s Spirit and the internal peace this type of relationship brings. I realize that my moments of spiritual desolation have occurred less because of sinful acts of commission and more because of a failure to experience the spiritual relationship that I desire.
As I read the Gospel from Matthew, I find myself in the role of the apostle who is protective of Jesus. I can easily imagine a loyal supporter trying to insulate the Master from children, especially a crowd with infants. Recently I have spent more than my share of time on the airplane. After a long day or a short night, I have more than once found myself wishing there was a child-free zone on the plane. In this context, I see the response of a very different Jesus, a Jesus who is much more open and patient than I am.
Today’s readings leave me with a sense of God’s inclusiveness and willingness to accept us where we are and work with each of us on an individual basis.
My prayer today is for a predisposition of openness for the relationships that I desire. Heavenly Father, I ask for the awareness and patience needed to let you in. I pray for the ability to recognize Your Spirit in the world and respond accordingly.
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