August 16, 2018
by Barbara Dilly
Creighton University's Department of Sociology and Anthropology
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 416

Ezekiel 12:1-12
Psalms 78:56-57, 58-59, 61-62
Matthew 18:21–19:1
Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

What If I Have Trouble Getting Better?

Today’s lessons ask us to consider that it means to be spiritually haughty.  Haughtiness in general is blatant and disdainful pride.  Spiritual haughtiness of heart is trying to be like God.  That human problem has been around since Adam and Eve and we need constant reminders that God is God and we are not.  The prophet Ezekiel reveals that God says not our wealth, our wisdom, or our intelligence will get us very far without God.  No matter how smart or how rich we are, we will die like all the rest of human-kind.  In Deuteronomy, God reminds us again that we humans have no control over life or death, that is only the work of God.  And it isn’t just the matters of life and death that we can’t control.  Even our victories are not of our own doing.  Especially our victories.  We don’t have the right to define justice in terms of our own vain glory.  Justice belongs to God.

Where does that leave us?  So often those of us who are rich and powerful go around announcing that God is on our side; and not even the rich or the powerful, but those who want to be make such claims.  My neighbor has a big sign on his house that says “God, Guns, and Guts Made America Free.”  While I am certainly not going to suggest that my neighbor is demonstrating blatant and disdainful pride, I wonder if he ever prays for “liberty and justice” for all?  I think we still have a lot of work to do in achieving those desired ends.  And I think it will take a lot more humility than pride to realize freedom and justice for all in America.  It’s not a done deal.  We still need God’s justice a lot more than some people would like to admit.

Thankfully, we have Jesus, who doesn’t leave us to our own devices.  Much as we would like to think we have the power to do so, we can’t create heaven on earth with guns and guts.  Jesus helps us understand that our riches and our strength are not going to get us into the Kingdom of God on this earth or the here-after.  We don’t get there without Jesus.   Yes, it is true that through God all things are possible, even on this earth, but Jesus reminds us that it is not for us to calculate what that means in earthly terms.  God’s possibilities for our lives are so much greater than what we can imagine on our own.  So back to that sign that I drive by every day.  Reflecting on the Old Testament lessons for today, I do think there is something haughty about thinking that God is no longer working to bring about justice and freedom in America except through guns and guts.  And reflecting on the Gospel lesson for today, I certainly need to pray for humility in considering what it means to enter in the Kingdom of God.  So today, as I pray the Lord’s prayer, I pray “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” trying to do so without calculating what that means in terms of my human earthly longings for wealth, wisdom, and power.  That’s a tough one!  Instead, I am trying to pray that the kingdom of God will come to my humbled heart and that I will receive the riches of Christ in my life. 

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