Acts of God are NEVER on our Terms

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God’s will is unstoppable. Even atheists recognize this. It’s why our legal system has something called an “Act of God defense,” when nature’s unpredictability causes hardships nobody could have foreseen or prevented. Life happens, in other words, and we must learn to live it.

Nevertheless, we humans prefer life on OUR terms—even the lives we are instrumental in bringing into the world. This explains the passions rising anew over the claim that doing so is our CHOICE, not an act of God. But as stated in the chapter of Isaiah from which this Sunday’s first reading comes, this prophet equated childbirth with God’s role in supporting human existence throughout life’s good and bad:

Shall I bring a mother to the point of birth, and yet not let her child be born?, says the LORD. Or shall I who bring to birth yet close her womb?, says your God. … As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; (Isaiah 66: 9-13).

We refuse to accept that acts of God are NEVER on our terms, so we ignore the only choice open to all of us on life’s receiving end: to LIVE it.

In Sunday’s second reading (Heb 12:5-7, 11-13), Paul advises us to toughen up and …

… Endure your trials as “discipline.”

That’s not fair, we protest, and it’s not necessary. We have the technology to control our lives. “We have the technology” is more a meme than the truth. Boomers may recognize it from the 70s TV series, The Six Million Dollar Man, in which a scientist says of the grievously injured Steve Austin, “Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first bionic man.”

The same bionic self-justification existed among Jesus’ followers—those who believed their salvation may have been more justified than that of others. As we see in Sunday’s gospel reading (Lk 13:22-30), their teacher taught them a lesson when asked “Will only a few people be saved?”

He answered,

“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. … For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

Unfortunately, humanity’s jealousy of God’s judgment has spilled over into what we call being pro-choice. In a recent newspaper article, a mother who “chose” the children who would first enter her life justified her reason for choosing not to complete her first pregnancy:

“Why does a woman need a reason at all?” she wrote.

She then listed the many reasons she is grateful for the choices afforded by institutionalized abortion:

–She was trapped in an unsatisfying relationship,

–It eliminated the need to lie about her abortion,

–She wasn’t financially or emotionally ready for a baby, and

–It paved the way for choosing motherhood on her own terms.

She concluded that she now has a son and daughter who owe their lives to the reproductive choices science made available to her. She doesn’t mention, though, whether her son and daughter are grateful to HER, to SCIENCE or to God for letting them live. That discussion itself may one day be an act of God in this family’s life.

–Tom Andel

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