Humanity is caught up in a violent and suffering world. Without faith, our fears and experiences can harden or numb our hearts. The Pharisees in today’s gospel reveal themselves as people without faith. They are enemies of truth because they refuse to acknowledge the wonders Jesus has done. They are enemies of love because they care nothing for the people who have been cured. Throughout history the corruption of the powerful has led to violence. We see this in Scripture, in Jeremiah’s time, David’s time and Jesus’ time. Today is no different; refugees from the ravages of war and bloody persecutions abound.
The good news we so desperately need to hear and remember is that in the midst of terrible circumstances we are not alone. In one of my favourite scripture passages, Jeremiah says, “But Yahweh is by my side like a mighty warrior”. Today’s readings invite us to believe in the power and presence of God at the hardest times of all; our moments of terror and helplessness.
In Psalm 18, David expresses deep love for Yahweh who has just saved him from Saul’s murderous intentions. His experience is the source of gratitude and joy. Jeremiah also knew God as his saviour. This knowledge kept his hope alive in spite of the ongoing persecutions he endured for speaking the truth that people did not want to hear.
In today’s gospel, Jesus appeals to the Pharisees to see his actions as witness to his identity as God’s Son. But only those who turn to God in utter vulnerability can come to know his power, mercy and justice…
A reporter described how a refugee fleeing the violence of gangs in his own country and the new unsympathetic American immigration policies recently walked all night from the United States into Canada to seek asylum with only his cell phone to guide him through rough territory. At one point he was exhausted and became entangled in vegetation. Close to despair in the complete darkness, he prayed desperately for God’s help. Moments later, he broke free. He was able to continue and several hours later accomplished his journey to freedom against all odds.
How about you? Have you ever known God is with you “like a mighty warrior”?
If so, remember his goodness, thank him and sing his praises, like David. Be ready and willing to share your experience with someone in need of faith.
Perhaps you are overwhelmed by fear, anger or hopelessness about the difficulties in your life. Begin by spending time in prayer acknowledging your needs and asking God to reveal his presence, to comfort and guide you. Take time each day to notice the ways he is with you. Ask someone whose faith in God is strong to tell you how God has helped them in times of trouble.
We need to pray intentionally and also be supported by others to help us grow in trusting God.
Thank you Lord for saving me again and again.
Help me to know and remember you are always with me like a mighty warrior.
May the gratitude and joy of all your children shine in the darkness so that many others will be drawn into your love and truth.