14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Psalm 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13-14
Romans 8:9, 11-13
Giving praise to God is a recurring theme in today’s readings. Our reading from Zechariah calls us to “shout for joy.” The psalm speaks of praising (extolling) the Lord’s name for ever. In the gospel, Jesus himself gives praise to the Father.
To praise God is speak and act in a way that shows we recognize and value all that God has given us. Sometimes we think about Mass in terms of how it makes us feel. We think of the prayers as asking God for what we need. Both of these are important but at the center of the Mass is our action of “praising the Lord.” Even when we do pray for our own needs, we can do so with trust and gratitude based on all that God has done for us in the past.
God does marvelous deeds for us. Hopefully we recognize these deeds as God does them but sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we are so centered on what we think we want that we miss what God does give us.
Sometimes praising God is hard because we labor and feel a great burden upon us. When we feel labored and burdened we might even question if God is out there and does He really care?
I’ll begin my response to this question by saying Jesus never said we won’t struggle or face suffering. He says, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” The terms “easy” and “light” do not say there will be no struggle or sufferings. They do tell us that it is easier with deal with the sufferings and struggles when we let God be part of our lives. Sometimes when we want it “our way” we don’t let God in. When we do let Jesus in, he can help us see as he sees and that changes how we perceive our burdens in a way that makes them a whole lot easier to bear.
With that in mind I want to turn to how we might perceive the burdens we face. The phrase “don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill” comes to mind here. Do we make our problems bigger than they really are?
In my own life I think about what it takes for me to be a priest. One might think it should be easy. What could be easier than working for God? But it doesn’t always seem easy to me. In fact, I will say that for me being an engineer was easier (but not better) than being a priest. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy being a priest. I enjoy being a priest and believe this is what God is calling me to do but there are challenges. For instance, I like to have everything done now or at least know when it will be done. In engineering it was easy to know when a project was done. As a priest, it isn’t so clear.
I can also overanalyze tasks in a way that causing unnecessary stress. For instance, once Pat Albrecht announced her retirement and knew June would take over as our Pastoral Associate, I began to “worry” about finding a new Catechetical Leader to be in charge of our children’s and youth faith formation. I wondered if anyone would apply. If someone did apply, would they be any good. So I worried.
I didn’t need to. We had seven people apply, interviewed four and then narrowed it down until we selected our new person who I think is a great candidate and I see a lot of potential for the future.
Did I have reason to be concerned? Yes but I didn’t need to feel burdened. I didn’t need to “worry.” God had it all figured out.
What burden do you face right now? Are you making it bigger than it is? How is God calling you to respond? How do you need God to help you through it?