HERE IS A DEFINITE connection between the first (Old Testament) reading and the Gospel reading for today. Admittedly it will take some explanation to be able to see it. In the first reading the writer of this part of the Book of Isaiah is telling the Jewish people who are still in captivity in Babylon that when they return home to their promised land, it will be a land of prosperity. This is indicated by the expression “a land flowing with milk and honey”. And I am sure that when they finally did return they were most happy to be able to do so. Now they were determined to live according to God’s laws. God was taking care of their material needs just as Jesus did for those people who had followed him out into the deserted area.
There is a special term that we use to describe God taking care of our needs and that is God’s Providence or sometimes referred to as Divine Providence. And while it might be a bit difficult to describe, we are all living proof that it has been at work in our lives for all of our lives. We are living proof of that. Ordinarily it happens in an ordinary manner. Sometimes it happens in an extraordinary manner. Some of us may even be aware of God having taken care of us on some occasion in an extraordinary manner. While I do not necessarily like the melody or the lyrics of the song, I do have to agree with the erstwhile popular song of the seventies, He’s got the whole world in his hands. Yes, God is taking care of things, and it is important for me, and for you to remember that. The world is not going to fall apart if you or I go out of existence. This is especially an area where it is especially important for us to put our faith into action, to practice what we believe.
We can say that it is our faith in God that makes it possible for us to believe that God has concern and care for us, that God is a provident God. This in turn should make us want to love God. After all, as St. Paul says somewhere, what do you have that you have not received? The only correct and honest answer is “nothing.” For it all has ultimately come from God. This ties in well with what St. Paul says in the second reading. There he says that nothing can keep him from loving Christ. Now this can be something that is easy to say. And it may be relatively easy to do as long as the doing doesn’t get too difficult. St. Paul had many opportunities to prove his love for Christ during very difficult circumstances. And he succeeded by remaining faithful. Our main opportunities are possibly not too difficult except for the day in and day out routine-ness of our service. And that can be a great thing. Being faithful in our love and service of Christ over the years is a great thing. And there are many saints who became saints just by doing that. Think of the Little Flower, St. Bernadette, St. Kateri, and St. Aloysius. They were not known for any great accomplishments. They just did their ordinary everyday things extraordinarily well. That is within the grasp of each of us. That is the way we have of proving that we love God.
If we can live convinced that God is taking care of us, and He really is, we should feel as secure as a baby in its mother’s arms. Then all we have to do are those things that God puts in front of us to do. And when it is all over, we will have heaven awaiting us. What a wonderful way to live! What a wonderful way to die!
We hope you enjoyed this homily by Fr. Valentine Young, OFM.