“We must obey God rather than men.” Just hearing those words and speaking them today, my mind goes in dangerous directions. Is this the day Fr. Jim loses it (one can argue did I ever have it, but…) But after 30 some odd days in lockdown seeing our chapel shut off, inaccessible to those who want to attend Mass, want to receive the sacraments, is this the homily I snap and go all renegade…
Sorry to disappoint, but no. Whatever my personal thoughts or feelings are with all of this – they are just that. My personal thoughts or feelings. I can’t be arrogant to think I know better when it comes to health and safety and all the other reasons we’ve been given for things being the way they are – and it would be irresponsible to use this position as a priest to do something like that. It’s way too easy to hear- “we must obey God rather than men” -and too tempting to think “let me tell people to just go against what we’ve been told we must do right now.” Too easy, too tempting – too obvious that the devil is afoot. So, okay that line has caught my attention and now yours if you’re still paying attention. What does it mean for us – “we must obey God rather than men?”
To put it in proper context first, for the apostles, for Peter saying that in the first reading, they were responding to the questioning, interrogation by the authorities who are already furious that they had just escaped the prison cell (through the help of the angel of the Lord in yesterday’s Gospel) And their main gripe, the charge they were bringing on them: uttering the name of Jesus. Teaching in the name of Jesus. Healing in the name of Jesus.
With that context, we can begin to see how it transcends this particular moment that the apostles found themselves in and can speak to us. Because the devil is still trying to prevent people from doing those same exact things. Make people feel separated from Jesus. Yes the devil has been clever in preventing us as Catholics to go to Mass, to receive the Sacraments. But we can’t let him gloat in victory thinking that’s it there’s nothing else we can do until this all ends. Because obeying God rather than men isn’t just about our attending Mass, and receiving the Sacraments.
When we listen to angry, depressed, discouraging voices whether from outside or from within – rather than the voice of God still very loudly speaking His blessings, His favor, His grace into our lives we’re being disobedient.
When we allow our frustrations over what is to override our blessings, our gifts, our creativity to come up with what can be – that’s when we’re going along with “obeying men” rather than obeying God.
A recurring theme this week, as we celebrated the feast of Divine Mercy on Sunday has been the beautiful phrase “Jesus I trust in you.” If we’re not careful that can just be a trite almost cliche sentiment that we see and nod at as something sweet and pleasant. But I was reading a devotional today that shared what is called the Litany of Trust that was written by the religious order, the Sisters of Life. Just praying the litany it shows how each and everyone of us can right here and now in this bizarre situation that we’re in find ways of “obeying God rather than men.” Because obeying God means we have to trust Him above all else – above all the noise we hear and tell ourselves. So let me pray this for you, and just listen and receive it into your heart and soul:
From the belief that I have to earn Your love Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that I am unlovable Deliver me, Jesus.
From the false security that I have what it takes Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that trusting You will leave me more destitute Deliver me, Jesus.
From all suspicion of Your words and promises Deliver me, Jesus.
From the rebellion against childlike dependency on You Deliver me, Jesus.
From refusals and reluctances in accepting Your will Deliver me, Jesus.
From anxiety about the future Deliver me, Jesus.
From resentment or excessive preoccupation with the past Deliver me, Jesus.
From restless self-seeking in the present moment Deliver me, Jesus.
From disbelief in Your love and presence Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being asked to give more than I have Deliver me, Jesus.
From the belief that my life has no meaning or worth Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of what love demands Deliver me, Jesus.
From discouragement Deliver me, Jesus.
That You are continually holding me, sustaining me, loving me Jesus, I trust in You.
That Your love goes deeper than my sins and failings and transforms me Jesus, I trust in You.
That not knowing what tomorrow brings is an invitation to lean on You Jesus, I trust in You.
That You are with me in my suffering Jesus, I trust in You.
That my suffering, united to Your own, will bear fruit in this life and the next Jesus, I trust in You.
That You will not leave me orphan, that You are present in Your Church Jesus, I trust in You.
That Your plan is better than anything else Jesus, I trust in You.
That You always hear me and in Your goodness always respond to me Jesus, I trust in You.
That You give me the grace to accept forgiveness and to forgive others Jesus, I trust in You.
That You give me all the strength I need for what is asked Jesus, I trust in You.
That my life is a gift Jesus, I trust in You.
That You will teach me to trust You Jesus, I trust in You.
That You are my Lord and my God Jesus, I trust in You.
That I am Your beloved one Jesus, I trust in You.