MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on the maddening way and the wonderful way in which God is incomprehensible. This reflection is not about a God who is understandable, warm and fuzzy all the time. Listen at your own risk of being inpired. Who knows the mind of God? Listen to this podcast of his reflection on the readings for 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time to find out. Please read Romans 11:33-36. #Prayer #Sermons #Homilyhelper #TwoSonsRoseWindow #JohnHenryCardinalNewman #GodOwesMeNothing
MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 8/24/2014 The 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Romans 11:33-36.
There was a father who had two sons. The first son was entering the stage of life where he was expected to leave home. This son was so tired of living with his parents he could scream. Being at that juncture of life where he wanted to live by his own rules, the son saw everything through that lens. His parents, as far as he was concerned, were control freaks that had no business being so oppressive.
The second son was a person who struggled with depression. This son needed to keep a schedule to keep his depression in check. Proper sleep, proper eating and proper exercise were important to keeping depression at bay. Unfortunately, as with most people who struggle with depression, the anxiety was hard to fight and it lead to all kinds of irregularities of schedule. This in turn led to more depression which led to more anxiety, and thus the spiral would turn.
The Father of the two sons felt he needed to step in and insist that the second son rest and let the family help him. The first son felt as though the father should keep out of everyone’s business when it just didn’t seem to matter. An argument ensued. The first son, taking issue with the father and defending the second son’s bad judgment, was hurtful and mean spirited, letting out all of his frustration on the father who argued for a bit and then left.
After a while, the father went and sought out the first son.
“You don’t understand,” said the father to his son, “to you I am limiting your brother’s freedom. For me, I am trying to save his life.”
“How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” are the judgments and ways of the Father in heaven.
John Henry Cardinal Newman spoke about the role of theology in the public University as a necessity. He said that the colleges and departments of a university are like the long glass petals in a rose window. You know how a rose window has the little window in the middle and from it the other windows shoot out like rays from the Sun. Newman said that each department of a University are like the petals of a rose window, except theology. He said that theology is the center window.
The other departments of a University will compete to be the most important petal and if they grow, then the rose window would look out of shape and not in its proper order. That is because each discipline of a University has its own philosophy that is germane to the topic at hand. Scientists think that science is the best and should judge social work by scientific evidence alone, for example.
Newman said that theology alone is the discipline that considers every other discipline within its thought. There is a place for science within thinking about God. There is a place for sociology when thinking about God. There is a proper ordering of everything under the Sun in relation to God. Theology alone is the center of the rose window.
In a sense, the center of the rose window sits atop the others. It can view what the petals of the rose window cannot see in their position across from and next to the other petals. It is like God. God is “above” us. He sees like the father of the two boys sees. There are things that we never expect to happen or reasons that cannot be fathomed by us that happen because God knows what we don’t. The father knew about his second son’s needs, which the first son could never think of because he is a son and not a father, caring for everyone.
I, for one, feel much better about having a God we cannot understand fully, as the quote from Job, cited by Paul in this passage from Romans, indicates. “Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has given him counsel?” the passage from Job asks. Some people I have known are insulted by this notion, that God is superior in intellect than we are. It is good that God is smarter than us, because he wouldn’t be much of a God to follow if he weren’t. God has got to be different than us and disagree with us because he sees everything over and above.
Like the father in the story, God is intimate and loving, but above and beyond our understanding and knowledge on its own. We cannot know God fully without revelation. He has got to speak to us in some way, like the father in the story who sought out the older son. God did speak to us in the Word. John the Evangelist writes that the Word was God and through the Word all things were made. That Word, that Revelation of God, came to us as a man, a form we could understand. He was born our birth, walked our walk, talked our talk, lived our life, tempted with our temptations, died our death and was raised to eternal life so that we could have eternal life.
There are going to be wonderful days. There are going to be awful days. There are going to be days leaving you smiling and others leaving you scratching your head. Whatever the day, God is there. He is with you. He can take the awful and the good, shake it, turn it and then give it back to you in such beauty that you will one day turn and it will all be a blessing.
A long time ago, in one of the classes I taught, there was a young woman who spoke movingly, passionately and openly about the fact that she had been raped by her uncle. She decided that she should carry the baby to term. So often, when we hear of this kind of story, the woman is so understandably stigmatized that she cannot bear to look at the child. This young woman said it was hard when the child was a baby. Yet, in her own words, “God took the worst moment of my life and gave me a treasure. I could not have understood that in my darkest hour. My son is blessing upon blessing from the worst of circumstances.”
I am not saying that this young woman’s rape was what God wanted. I do not believe it. It was solely the hateful will of her uncle. Yet for those who love the Lord, it will all be blessing if we turn it to the Lord. If we understand that all things are “for him, through him and to him,” then even the worst of situations can be turned on their heads. A woman raped can be a woman vigilant for other women. A child left barren without a father can be a father like no other who swears his children will not be the same. A person who is depressed can be a spokesperson for those with no hope. God has a way of giving us what we feel is more than we could ever possibly handle, until we turn to him with our anxiety, our depression, our sense of self hatred, our hurts, disappointments, injuries and victim-hoods of every stripe. Then, as we turn to him, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
I have a friend who has been unemployed for some months. From the depths of my prayers, I heard these words, “we are not defined by what we do, we are defined by the one who made us.” I scratch my head at how stupid I can be. I scratch my head at how senseless, careless and seemingly worthless others can be. It was the one who loved us, in some inscrutable, unsearchable way, that gives us meaning. We conquer the trials of life around us, not because of how smart we are, but because of whose we are. We are the Lord’s, bought with a price and dubbed with this title upon our creation: “very good.”
“I have loved you and you are mine,” says the Lord. For what reason would God love me on my worst days? Why would God love people who kill each other in his name? Why would God love people who mock others with mental illness? Why would God love people who use and abuse others for the sake of greed and profit? Why would God love people who maim, kill, hurt with words or apathy? Why would God love people who use chemicals without understanding the impact they have on the earth or others? Why would God love people who are rude to one another, incredibly selfish in their viewpoints and rapist in so many ways? It is beyond me.
I have no idea why the God of the universe would love anyone, including myself. I, for one, am thankful that it is not my counsel or the counsel of any other human being that God takes when considering what to do with us. I am thankful that the depth, the riches, wisdom and knowledge of God are unsearchable, and inscrutable. They are beyond owing humans a payment. That is so wonderful to know, because then God can love us just because he can and does: no explanation needed.
So, if you are facing the day in some pris0n, of your own making of someone else’s, remember that you are “for him, through him and to him” in purpose. If you are facing a joyous occaision and just cannot contain yourself, you are “for him, through him and to him.” If you wake up and are graced with another day where you can feel deeply, love deeply, rejoice overwhelmingly, and believe truly, then you are “for him, through him and to him.” For he knows. He knows. It doesn’t matter if you don’t. Amen? Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of MySpiritualAdvisor.com and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of MySpiritualAdvisor.com, LLC. MySpiritualAdvisor.com, 2014.