The first reading for today’s liturgy and the responsorial psalm that follows it are written in the strongest language, condemning the people of Israel who have turned their backs on God. God has done so much for them, yet they have decided that they no longer need God. When they were oppressed by the Egyptians, they cried out for God to come to their aid. However, now that they are living in their own country and are the rival of their neighbors, they no longer seem to need God.
Something similar can be said for those of us who only turn to God when we are in need. What God has always wanted of us is a relationship. However, no relationship can ever exist if we only remember it when things are not going well for us.
This is precisely why so much of the Scriptures uses our human experience to instruct us in the way to maintain a relationship with God. The parables that Jesus tells us today are instructive in that they equate the Gospel to a mustard seed and to yeast. Both are small. Yet when used properly, they can have grand results. If one plants mustard seed near other vegetable plants, the strength of the mustard will permeate the other vegetables. Mustard should be planted away from other kinds of food. Yeast that is properly used will double the mixture of flour and water. Both of these analogies tell us how important it is to remember the small elements of our relationship with God. A few moments of prayer when we are in a hurry, a passing thought of thanksgiving when something goes well, a few minutes spent with the Scripture each day will ensure that our relationship with God will grow. If all we do is call upon God when we need God, then God will seem absent to us.
Our daily celebration of the Eucharist also helps us to keep our relationship with God on the front burner, as it were. Yes, we come to the altar in need. However, the Eucharist also teaches us to be sorry for our sins, to thank God for all the gifts we have received, and to lift our voices in praise of God’s goodness.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator