(For the audio version of this blog, please visit: http://brothersinchristcmf.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/Mass-Blog-for-the-16th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-2023.mp3)
The readings for Sunday’s Mass offer an infinite bank account we can draw from to finance a bet on God’s existence. Blaise Pascal, a French philosopher, made such a wager more than four centuries ago—based on confidence in his own human logic. If God doesn’t exist, he reasoned, we lose nothing at death by having believed. If there IS a God, we gain everything (heaven). So why not bet your life on its source? Atheists criticized this wager because it didn’t prove anything for a fact.
But what if we consider God’s perspective? What would a perfect being gain from investing belief in imperfect beings like us? We usually only come out of hiding when we need help fixing the consequences of our imperfections. As the Book of Wisdom teaches us this Sunday (Wis 12:13, 16-19), God’s might is the model we losers need to keep in mind if we’re to rise above our own lowly quality standards. Adopting God’s standard of justice in dealing with us will help us understand the Holy Spirit’s yearning to be kind.
“Though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us; for power, whenever you will, attends you. And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind.”
Why would an all-powerful God bother to model kindness for the powerless? Because he can’t deny the seeds of his own nature planted inside us. God is love, after all, and if we powerless creatures exist for any reason, it must be to grow His love. It sprouts as kindness.
The Holy Spirit of love exists to be spread among those without it. Although we are weak, we are carriers. God gives us the power to both seek and spread His Spirit. Paul, the morally weakest of humans before his spiritual conversion, tells us so through his letter to the Romans (Rom 8:26-27),
The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.
God designed our heart as the tabernacle of the Spirit’s holiness. It must stay open if others are to feed from it. The only thing that can change how fruitful we are in God’s design is how we design our own lives. Do we let this world’s weeds block our way to making heaven’s existence a safe bet?
Our Father’s betting we’ll eventually get hungry enough to weed our own garden so that chore doesn’t have to be done for us. Would He let us be weeded out of His garden? Jesus answers through Sunday’s parable (Mt 13:24-43):
No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”
God’s not gambling on a bountiful harvest. He’s inviting us to make it a sure thing, thereby letting us be among His winnings. Accepting that invitation requires us to envision our own existence beyond this world’s horizon—just as God sees us. As a sure thing.