God’s merciful love is real. And the Church, for all of its flaws, is far greater than the human beings who labor in its vineyard. The response to our psalm cannot be more apropos: “Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.” We are in trouble, and God is with us.
As we look toward the season of Lent, our Gospel this Sunday invites us to look at our lives with clear eyes and to reflect on the fruit of our lives. Are there “branches” that need to be pruned, so that other areas of our lives — including our prayer and ministry — can be more fruitful?
It is easy to lose hope in the face of societal violence. There are people all around us who are hurting. Perhaps if we were quicker to show them mercy, they would be less likely to lash out. Who knows how many atrocities have been averted simply by someone taking the time to listen to a neighbor?
The Gospel tells the story of how the Apostles fished all night but caught nothing. Jesus tells them to cast their nets again. By trusting Jesus, they received an enormous catch. We are all called to trust Jesus and receive all his goodness.
Whether we’re activists, doctors, carpenters, or stay-at-home parents, the power of the Gospel of love can and must shine out through our daily lives. And if we are fighting for justice in this world, then the words of Paul are for us as well. Without love, we become a “clanging gong” or “clashing symbol.” Without love, our witness and works will “be brought to nothing.”
The human condition, with all of its messiness, irregularities, sinfulness, imperfection, brokenness, suffering, and conflicting ideologies, is our condition. It is also the condition into which God was born. There is room for everyone. This is how God designed things in the first place.
Oftentimes, the very best of what I have to offer the Christ Child is not always noteworthy. Instead of gold, frankincense and myrrh, I have aspirations of self-promotion, selfishness of appeasing my desire for pleasure and comfort and negative speech and thought patterns. None of these seem appropriate for the baby.
For peace to transform the world, it must transform us first. The peace of God is supernatural, and it must be formed in each individual life. As this Advent season draws to a close, consider your own transformation. Do you take time to listen to the voice of the Lord?