Today’s Gospel: Luke 6:6-11
Only in God be at rest my soul… he only is my rock and my salvation. The psalm today gives us a view into the soul of a person who relies entirely upon God. This is easy to say, but harder to do. In order to come to know this personally and not simply as a maxim, it helps to do two things. First, meditate on the free gift of salvation, and second, turn to God when things are not going our way.
Meditate on God’s Free Gift- I had the joy of performing the Mozart Requiem this fall with my choral group. The guest maestro conducted without a score, and seemed to dance on the podium. He summoned us—orchestra members, singers, and soloists—to express the drama of life, death, judgment, and salvation through our performance. One of the most memorable parts of the requiem is from the third movement: Rex tremendae majestatis, qui salvandos salvas gratis (King of tremendous majesty, who saving us, saves us freely). “Rex” is sung forte three times as a cry of awe and supplication to the King who alone can heal and redeem any one of us. I especially love salvas gratis, which expresses the free gift of salvation we could never earn or accomplish on our own. The pure gift of salvation is at once a relief and a joy, for only confidence and love will prepare us to one day enter the presence of the King of Tremendous Majesty.
Turn to God in Times of Difficulty- Life gives us daily opportunities to turn to God but also specific trials. We may be unemployed, or have a sickness in the family; we may have crushing circumstances beyond our control. Yet if we show up to our work and our family life, turning over to God whatever it is that causes us distress or fatigue, this is growing in reliance upon God. As St. Paul tells the Christians in the epistle of the first reading, “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his Body, which is the Church.” As with Paul, our sufferings benefit others when we endure them while turning to God in faith.
In the gospel today, things are definitely not going Jesus’ way. His adversaries are plotting against him. Jesus is teaching in the synagogue, and the leaders of the people are hoping to accuse him of something. Knowing their thoughts, Jesus asks, looking around at them angrily (as one translation has it), “I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil?” Right in front of them Jesus answers his own question by healing the man with the withered hand. The Pharisees only “became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.” The Lord relied on his Heavenly Father even when the worst case scenario was playing out in his life: the Jews—his own beloved people—were rejecting him. Jesus must have repeated the psalm, only in God be at rest, when he experienced this rejection.
As disciples of the Lord, we are called to grow in our capacity to rely on God. If we meditate on the free gift of salvation and turn to God in our difficulties, this practice will lead us gradually to this confidence.
When have I been disturbed about something? Am I prepared to ask God to renew my peace and give me the grace to turn to God?
Father, let me know better with each day how truly you are my rock and my salvation. Show me just how much your love can overcome any difficulty I must bear.
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.
Copyright 2015 Julie Paavola