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“For I Know Well the Plans”

It is no secret that 2020 was a difficult year. A number of my blog articles in the last year reflect that. In particular, there were the articles, “2020: What a Year!” and “2020 is Over!”.

Now, we try to look forward and develop a plan. With vaccines for the Coronavirus now being distributed, we have some hope that the end to the pandemic is in sight. It will take time as distributing the vaccine is not a simple task as we are talking about seven billion people across the world, but, again, the end to the pandemic is in sight.

For now, we continue the “plan” we have been on with social distancing and wearing masks. We are tried of it but, with God’s grace, we will persevere.

What about the political situation in our country? The party in charge of the White House and the Senate has changed. Like it or not, this means there will be changes in policy and priorities. Changes are already happening promoting abortion as well as policies concerning people of different sexual orientations and attractions. We need to hold firm to our Catholic faith. For my part, I continue my new series on Catholic Pro-Life teaching, Treating Life with Dignity and Love (see www.renewaloffaith.org/prolife). I also pray for our country and our elected leaders.

2020 was a year of many riots. I can understand protests. I don’t understand riots. 2021 started with a riot that I don’t know if anyone would have imagined. Our nation’s Capitol building in Washington, DC was overrun. I pray for our country.

What about what is going in our Catholic Church? We shutdown public Masses for months (exact length varied depending on location and the Coronavirus). When we resumed public Masses, attendance at Sunday Mass was greatly reduced. At the parish where I serve, even now attendance is only 30-50% of what it was before the pandemic began. Once the pandemic is over, I believe more people will come back to church but will all of them? Let’s face it. Attendance has been dropping for years. We need a plan to invite people to come and see what God offers them.

We also have a problem of “confusion” in our Church. In society in general, we hear many different people telling us different things about morality (see my articles on “morality”, especially “Many Voices: Who Should We Listen To?”). This happens even within the church. Through my preaching, webinars, and articles I try to help people understand what our Catholic teaches. I also pray for the Holy Spirit to help us know the Truth, Truth that comes from God. We do not get to determine what is right and wrong. Only God does.

Here I include the words of Isaiah 55:6-8 (I encourage to read the whole chapter (Isaiah 55),

Seek the Lord while he may be found,
    call upon him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their way,
    and sinners their thoughts;
Let them turn to the Lord to find mercy;
    to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    nor are your ways my ways
—oracle of the Lord.

I wish I could say I have a plan that will fix everything. I don’t. I already mentioned above some of how I try to do my part. I desire to do more.

While I am uncertain about the future, I have not abandoned hope for we hear in the gospels, “nothing will be impossible for God” (Luke 1:37, cf. Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27).

In looking for hope, we must remember this is not the first time the people of God have lost faith and fallen away from God. At times, they followed their own plan on how to live. What did their plan get them? Jeremiah was a prophet at the time when many Israelites had lost faith and fallen into sin. God allowed them to be defeated by their enemy, the Babylonians. However, God did not abandon them.

In Jeremiah 29 we read Jeremiah’s letter to those in exile. In verses 29:5-7, he tells them to build houses, establish families, and work for the welfare of the city because they will be there for a while. However, it is not God’s plan to leave them there forever. His plan calls for them to find him and he will change their lot (Jeremiah 29:14).

While we abandon God when we sin, God does not abandon us. He has a plan for our salvation. He tells us of his plan in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the Lord—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.

We need to let go of our own plans and seek the plan of God. His ways are better than our ways.

Let us pray:
Lord, we live in difficult times. The world is not as you intend. Each time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” We struggle to know your will. We hear human voices that tell us their way but it is not your way. In pride, we may think we have all the answers but we don’t. Help us to set aside human pride to humbly do your will. Teach us your plan. Give us the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, and courage from the Holy Spirit so that we might fulfill your plan and make the world a better place.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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