Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Reflections for the 15th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 2

Thursday – I AM

It seems like a strange name, the one God reveals to Moses in today's first reading: “I am who am.” Really, though, this divine name couldn't be more perfect, for it captures God's essence better than any other name ever could.

God is Being. He is the only Being Who's existence doesn't rely on any other being. To be is intrinsic to God. It is His very nature. He is.

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, God is the only necessary Being. The rest of us are merely contingent beings. We exist because God wills it, and we are totally dependent upon Him for our being, which is merely a share in His Being. If God stopped thinking about us, stopped willing us to exist, even for a moment, we would simply disappear.

God, on the other hand, has always existed and always will exist. He doesn't take His existence from another source. That's why He reveals the name “I am who am” to Moses, for a Biblical name is more than just a word or phrase; it expresses the true character of the one who bears the name. God is He Who is.

Friday – Hear His Voice

We often overlook the Gospel Proclamation or Alleluia verse, but it is a very important part of the Liturgy of the Word. It is a call to listen, to open our minds, and to prepare our hearts to hear the Word of God, Jesus Christ, speak His words of love. We respond to this invitation by acknowledging His voice and offering Him our praise and worship.

Today's Alleluia verse emphasizes the call of Jesus Christ and the invitation to listen to Him and to follow Him: “My sheep hear My voice, says the Lord, I know them, and they follow Me.”

Are we part of the Lord's flock? Sheep recognize their shepherd and follow him. They trust him to guide them and care for them. Do we recognize the voice of our Shepherd when we hear Him speak in the Scriptures, in Sacred Tradition, and in the teachings of the Magisterium? Do we follow Him, trusting Him to guide and care for us? Or do we resist and try to go our own way? Are we straying sheep that He must chase after? Or are we truly members of the flock of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd? 

Saturday – His Mercy Endures Forever

In today's psalm, #136, we recite the refrain “His mercy endures forever” and listen as these words are repeated every other line throughout the psalm.

There's a reason for the repetition. These four words need to be engraved in our hears and minds. They are critical for us to remember. God's mercy endures forever. 

The word for mercy here is hêsêd in Hebrew. Mercy is only one translation and perhaps not even the best one. The word refers to the bond of covenant love and loyalty that exists between God and His people. A covenant is a bond of self-giving love, created by an oath, that makes a family. The covenant is upheld and strengthened by hêsêd, covenant love. 

The repetition of hêsêd in this psalm, then, emphasizes the perfection and perseverance of God's covenant love for us. God is perfectly faithful and perfectly loving. He perfectly upholds His end of the covenant and cares for His family. We are that family, and God cherishes us tenderly and loves us deeply with the highest hêsêd forever.

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