This Reflection was taken from the Daily Mass Readings of Sept. 25, 2013:
“Praise him, you children of Israel, before the Gentiles, for though he has scattered you among them, he has shown you his greatness even there.” That’s right, I’m doing another reflection on a Responsorial Psalm. I always knew I was “different.”
We, as Christians, are essentially modern “Jews” scattered amongst modern “Gentiles.” Similar to the years in B.C., the “Gentile” population is much greater than ours, and we are called to proclaim God’s name amongst them. We are called to convert them to the Truth.
Proclaiming God and his Good News wasn’t meant to be easy. Many of us who recognize that difficulty don’t even try to proclaim it. Why don’t we? Is it because we “love” ourselves too much, and don’t want to be inconvenienced? Is it because we “love” others too much, and don’t feel like “bothering” or “offending” them? Is it because we think we’ll lose friends by telling people things they don’t necessarily want to hear?
By forsaking the proclamation of the Good News for any of these reasons, we are failing to “love” others, and we are earning only worldly appreciation for our efforts. If we really loved others, we wouldn’t be so worried about “offending” them, by, say, mentioning the name “Jesus.” We would be more concerned with saving them, so that they’d have a better chance of gaining eternal life with Jesus.
If we have the opportunity to try and save them, but just can’t be bothered, then we’re not only hurting our “friends,” but also ourselves. We’re hurting ourselves in that we will be judged for not just what good we did, but also for what good we could have done but chose not to do.
It is better to try to save our friend’s soul, and risk losing them as a friend, than it is to save our friendship with them while we watch their soul deteriorate. If we choose to appease people by telling them what they want to hear–instead of telling them the Truth–then we’re as bad as the false prophets of Biblical times, and we risk severing our friendship with God. Now God, unlike man, isn’t going to stop loving us when we say things he doesn’t want to hear. Also unlike man, he’s not even going to mutter that he wants to push us off a cliff, or whisper behind our backs that he wishes we’d stick ourselves in a sewer drain. He is filled with infinite compassion for each and every one of us–more compassion than we can possibly conceive of. That, however, doesn’t mean we want to try to take advantage of his infinite love.
Choosing to make people happy, when it contrasts with doing God’s Will, just because we know that God will still love us, is bad both for us and for the souls of those we are trying to make happy. We should do our best to love all people; but why would we choose to love people, who could–and often do–turn on us if we step out of line, more than we love God, who will always love us and is always willing to forgive us? God, unlike many people, gives us free will. Unlike many people, who will try to force you into doing what they want, God allows us to make our own choices. Obviously, he wants us to do his Will–but he’s not going to make us. Why, then, do we worry so much more about making people happy than we do about making God happy?
Again, God loves us infinitely; but if we fail to try our best to be righteous in this world, we cannot go to Heaven. In addition to being loving, God is both holy and just. It simply isn’t fair to let people with a decidedly evil, un-Godly nature enter his Eternal Kingdom, alongside those who have tried their best throughout all their worldly years to do the goodness of his Will. In all honesty, though, despite how hard we may try to obey his Will, not one of us actually deserves, or earns, the Kingdom of Heaven. Just like existence itself, Heaven and eternal life are gifts to us, not prizes to be won. God understands that; he understands that we are a fallen race, and therefore can’t hope to earn his love. That’s why he has mercy on us, and asks only that we try our best to live a moral life in him.
One great way to do that is to spread his Word to the present-day “Gentiles.” As long as we go about it with love and compassion (as opposed to being snotty and condescending about it), it isn’t hateful or offensive to tell them things they don’t enjoy hearing. It’s his Will that we should care enough about them to try to bring them to God; because with him, and only with him, they–and us–will find true peace for our souls.
Note: I almost included an exceedingly lame analogy (pertaining to “earning” God’s Kingdom) about dropping our ping-pong balls into a carnival cup of goodness. Trust me–you should be as glad as I am that I didn’t.
by Cameron Daly