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Reflection and Response for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

The experience of parenthood illuminates the stern side of God's nature. We discipline the children we love. The discipline is largely necessary to curb self-centered and destructive behavior and to instill consideration for others.

But morality is not a cold system of abstract principles that can be taught or understood apart from human relationships. The dynamics of healthy moral conduct have love as the basic motivator. At elementary stages, fear of punishment is a major component effecting good behavior. However, as we mature and begin to perceive love in parental demands, we behave in acceptable ways out of respect and love for those who are bearing the responsibility of training us. In all sound human relationships, regard for others takes precedence over self-serving behavior.

The history of humanity reveals us as perpetual, petulant spiritual children, resisting and disobeying God's demands, rebelling against God's love, and constantly upsetting the peace and order in God's world. And, like indignant children, we resent God's chastisement. We think the threat of judgment is unfair and out of character with God's loving nature even while we discipline our children "for their own good." If we refuse to grow mature in love, the consequences are upon our heads: wars and rumors of wars among nations, strife within families–division, division everywhere–for only love unites.

God will judge us in order to unite us. God came and will come again to heal us. God will claim the nations as God's own, and only then will there be peace and order in the world. For this hour we should be praying and eagerly waiting. Imagine how happy we will feel without all the flaws of character that shame us now! Imagine our joy if, as earthly parents, we could see this accomplished in our own children!

Jesus endured pain in his struggle against sin on our behalf. For the joy of salvation that he set before us, let us endure the rigors of trying to follow in his footsteps.

Quietly consider:
What hardships is the Lord requiring of me in order to follow him more perfectly?

Prayer Starter

Jesus, leader and perfecter of faith, help me to follow you despite...