From a Creighton Student's Perspective
July 17, 2012
Senior, Theology Major, Pre-Med
Wow! The readings for today are quite powerful, but I also found that it was rather hard to personally connect to them. When I think of Jesus, what comes to my mind is a selfless man who is caring, understanding, and accepting of all people. However, the Gospel today presents Jesus as critical, challenging, and stern. Needless to say, the reading was not what I expected, and I was initially upset at this portrayal of Jesus.
As I began to read and reflect more on the readings, I realized that my discomfort arose from the fact that in the Gospel Jesus is not praising us for our faithfulness or virtue. Instead, Jesus is identifying our shortcomings and challenging us to recognize where we have failed to follow him. In my life, I have found that is fairly easy to agree with or gravitate towards someone who offers you praise and admiration. However, when my character is challenged, I immediately find myself on the defensive and looking to dismiss the critical remarks brought against me. This is the reaction I had when I read about Jesus reproaching the towns Chorazin and Bethsaida, and I am sure many people in those towns had the same initial reaction. But just because Jesus’ reproach initially made me uncomfortable, I discovered that it in no way made his remarks any less true or meaningful. Jesus recognizes that we are a people mangled by sin, and due to this sin we sometimes are unable to see God’s presence in our lives. Therefore, he is calling us to also recognize this reality so we might be able to turn away from sin and direct our whole selves to God. Jesus is calling us to repentance, and he is emphasizing that the first part of true repentance is identifying our faults and failures. In this way, we might better know where we need to ask God for guidance and strength.
While it is important to know how we can turn back to God after we sin, it also is vital to know how we can better defend ourselves from the temptations to sin and remain faithful. I think the first reading provides key insight for this question. In the face of great obstacles and challenging situations, it states that “unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm” (Isaiah 7:9). This reading shows that our strength and virtue truly come from God, and thus, we must have the faith to trust in God and God’s help. I have a tendency to want to just build myself up, and I sometimes find it difficult to trust in the help of others. But the first reading powerfully shows that when it comes to truly living out our faith, we must continually recognize that we cannot do it alone. Instead, we must have the courage to allow God to enter into our lives and seek his help. The responsorial psalm goes on to show that we will find great joy in trusting God because “God upholds his city forever”. Therefore, let us pray today for the insight to see where we need God’s guidance and grace and for the courage to allow God to fully enter into our lives.
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