I wrote this reflection a few days ago–before I went and got a blog about it–so please excuse my present tense wording when referring to past Daily Mass Readings.
The following reflection is based on the Daily Mass Readings of Sept. 9, 2013 (see the link above).
You may not be used to reading a reflection about a Responsorial Psalm. Neither am I. That should say something–either that reflections on Responsorial Psalms tend to stink, or I need to pay better attention to more intelligent peoples’ religious discourses.
Today’s Psalm–as do all aspects of the Bible–carries an important message: “In God is my safety and my glory.” Or even just the line “Only in God be at rest, my soul.”
Many of us fail to keep that in mind. We often believe–or at least, we want to believe–that our greatest happiness comes from ourselves. We think that we are the ultimate judges of what’s best for us, what’s right, what’s good. But we are mistaken.
What we want is often quite different from what we really need–that is, what would be best for us. Only God truly knows what that is. “Trust in him at all times, O my people!” How often can any of us seriously claim to do that? What percentage of the time do we place our trust in God, rather than in ourselves?
God knows us better than we know ourselves. So why do we ever disobey him? One reason, I think, is because we think we can make ourselves happier. Sometimes through sin. This is never true.
The only pleasure sin can ever bring is momentary–and it is always hurtful. Rather like smoking. I’ve never tried smoking, so I don’t know how it entices some people, but it does nonetheless. And what does it do for them in the end? Those who smoke are susceptible to asthma, lung cancer, who-knows-how-many-other side effects, and probably a shortened life span.
Sin, meanwhile, brings spiritual ailment–and if we don’t repent, spiritual death. When we sin, we are essentially handing our souls cigarettes, causing them to gradually deteriorate. If our souls are exposed to too much sinful smoke, they will die; and if our souls are already dead by the time our mortal bodies die, what hope do we have?
To be honest, once we’re dead, we essentially have none. But while we’re alive…even if we feel we’ve completely destroyed any hope of salvation, we still have repentance, and we still have God. And God, through our genuine repentance, can give us hope of everlasting life–at absolutely no cost to us. All we have to do is trust him, and let his Will be our own.
Think of someone you love more than life itself. Do you want anything but the best for them? Now imagine a love far–forget far, infinitely–stronger than that. That is what God feels for us.
Now please, keep in mind that God is all-knowing. Just to prove that, how many of us know the number of hairs on our own head? I don’t know how many of you have tried counting them, but I certainly haven’t. Heck, I’ve never even counted my cat’s whiskers. But if you asked God how many hairs you had on your head, he could rattle off that number without missing a beat. And…if you’re bald, so could I.
At any rate, how much hair we do or don’t have is a generally unnecessary fact. Really, who cares?
God. God is the only one who could possibly care enough to know that. And if he cares about our hair, how much more do you suppose he cares about our souls?
I asked you to imagine someone you love; now imagine something that makes you happy. Happier than anything else you can think of. Now, imagine a happiness infinitely greater than that. Can you? Can I? If we can make it to Heaven, that is the kind of happiness we will feel–all of us–all the time. Why in the world do we want to satisfy ourselves sinfully in this temporary life, when we could be preparing ourselves for such a greater, eternal joy in such a greater, eternal next life? Instead, we so often choose to put such joy on the line, to risk it for the sake of worldly convenience.
And actually, the biggest irony here is that doing good makes us feel good. We don’t have to sin to make ourselves happy in this world. Sin may be momentarily enjoyable in some strange way, but doing good leaves us with a feeling of inner contentment that few things can equal.
“In God is my safety and my glory.” “Only in God be at rest, my soul.” Let’s try opening our hearts and letting God inside. If all of us–including me–could do this all the time, imagine what peaceful lives we would all lead! Let’s offer up our stress, our worry, our anger; let’s offer them up to God, and let him replace them with his peace, his love, his forgiveness. Trust me when I say that not one of us will have greater peace at heart than when we can let God into it.
by Cameron Daly