Sunday, January 22, 2012

I Samuel: faced with the fearsome army of the Philistines, and having suffered an agonizing defeat, the army of Israel sends for the Ark of the Covenant. When it arrives in their camp, they cheer, because God will surely vanquish their enemies now. That night, forty thousand of their soldiers lay dead and they were defeated. Far better if they had fallen down in silent awe and reverence before the Ark of the Covenent, rather than cheer for certain victory. There is no magic to the relationship with God -- it arises from God's approach to us, takes root in our soul, and penetrates every part of our lives (usually gently; sometimes violently – however God needs to work in our lives).

The Israelite army thought that the presence of the Ark of the Covenant would guarantee that God's will would be accomplished. They were right, but what they hadn't bargained for was that God's will was not the same as theirs. They turned the presence of God into an act of willful self-determination -– "God will do what we want" -- instead of an opportunity to rejoice in His presence and celebrate their relationship with Him. Faith and religion are not based on what God can do for us, but on a friendship, a deep relationship of the whole of life, with Him. God is not a tool to help us accomplish our will and achieve our wants -- it's just the opposite. As Francis of Assisi prayed, "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace."
Msgr. William J. King

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