THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for January 14th, 2014
Liturgical texts here
I REMEMBER driving through one of my father-in-law’s pastures, which was particularly bumpy. It had large mounds randomly placed throughout the field. “What are all these mounds?” I asked. He replied, “When we were cleaning out corrals one year, we dumped the manure in piles, but never got around to spreading it.” What I noticed is that, wherever the mounds were, that’s where the grass was greenest; that’s where the growth was most beautiful.
You see, as it says in today’s Psalm, God can make something beautiful come from the pile of “crap” you’ve made of your life:
He raises the needy from the dust; from the dung heap he lifts up the poor.
It depends on whether or not we’ve surrendered our own plans and complete control of our lives—whether we’ve become “poor.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to always like it.
It’s okay to pout before God. To tell Him you’re unhappy, hurting, and confused. It’s okay to tell Him you don’t like His plans, and that if possible, you’d prefer another option. It’s called being real. It’s called “the truth.” After all, Jesus said the Father was seeking those who would worship Him in “Spirit and truth.” cf. Jn 4:23
Hannah, in the first reading, was such an honest soul. “I am an unhappy woman,” she cries. She does not pretend to be a bubbly saint, quoting Scriptures and faking smiles in front of Eli trying to impress him with her faith. She’s just honest.
In her bitterness she prayed to the LORD, weeping copiously…
God hears her prayer not only because it is poured out in the stream of truth, but moreso because it comes from the fountain of faith. For the next day, despite not knowing for certain whether the Lord would fulfill her request for a child, it says,
Early the next morning they worshiped before the LORD, and then returned to their home in Ramah.
Hannah still worshiped. She still obeyed. She still remained faithful. You see, it’s one thing to let God know how you feel, and then live in rebellion trying to “hurt” Him and yourself by sin—and another to say, “Okay, Lord. I just had to tell you that. But I’ll do it your way.”
This is ultimately what it means to “worship” God. It is not so much vocal praise, though that can be part of it, but the surrendering of one’s life completely to the Lord, as you are, in the circumstances you are in, as they appear to be heading—and still trusting.
I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Rom 12:1)
We don’t have to look any further than Jesus, the very Son of God, to learn how to pour out one’s heart. He cried from the depths of sorrow, asking the Father if there was another way, but added: “Not my will, but yours be done.”
So my hurting brother, my wounded sister, don’t stop going to Mass; don’t avoid prayer; don’t reach for the bottle or the internet to medicate your pain. Instead, pour out your heart to the Lord, being honest, crying for His help, and then worshiping Him by following His commandments and holy will with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and body.
And Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, the same Jesus who casts out demons, heals the sick, comforts the lowly, and gives rest to those with heavy burdens, will not fail to raise you up. He will make something beautiful out of the manure piles in your life… in His own way, His own time, and in exactly the manner that will be best for your soul, and those of others.
For Resurrection always follows the Cross.
Trust God at all times, my people! Pour out your hearts to God our refuge… Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord. (Ps 62:9; Lam 2:19)
We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose… For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments (Rom 8:28; 1 Jn 5:3)
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|1.||↑||cf. Jn 4:23|