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Anchoring in God

First Reading: 2 Kings 24:8-17

Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign,
and he reigned three months in Jerusalem.
His mother’s name was Nehushta,
daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.
He did evil in the sight of the LORD,
just as his forebears had done.

At that time the officials of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon,
attacked Jerusalem, and the city came under siege.
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon,
himself arrived at the city
while his servants were besieging it.
Then Jehoiachin, king of Judah, together with his mother,
his ministers, officers, and functionaries,
surrendered to the king of Babylon, who,
in the eighth year of his reign, took him captive.
And he carried off all the treasures
of the temple of the LORD and those of the palace,
and broke up all the gold utensils that Solomon, king of Israel,
had provided in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had foretold.
He deported all Jerusalem:
all the officers and men of the army, ten thousand in number,
and all the craftsmen and smiths.
None were left among the people of the land except the poor.
He deported Jehoiachin to Babylon,
and also led captive from Jerusalem to Babylon
the king’s mother and wives,
his functionaries, and the chief men of the land.
The king of Babylon also led captive to Babylon
all seven thousand men of the army,
and a thousand craftsmen and smiths,
all of them trained soldiers.
In place of Jehoiachin,
the king of Babylon appointed his uncle Mattaniah king,
and changed his name to Zedekiah.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 79:1B-2, 3-5, 8, 9

R. (9) For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple,
they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
They have given the corpses of your servants
as food to the birds of heaven,
the flesh of your faithful ones to the beasts of the earth.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
They have poured out their blood like water
round about Jerusalem,
and there is no one to bury them.
We have become the reproach of our neighbors,
the scorn and derision of those around us.
O LORD, how long? Will you be angry forever?
Will your jealousy burn like fire?
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
may your compassion quickly come to us,
for we are brought very low.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
Help us, O God our savior,
because of the glory of your name;
Deliver us and pardon our sins
for your name’s sake.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.

Gospel: Matthew 7:21-29

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day,
‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name?
Did we not drive out demons in your name?
Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’
Then I will declare to them solemnly,
‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them
will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.
And everyone who listens to these words of mine
but does not act on them
will be like a fool who built his house on sand.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

When Jesus finished these words,
the crowds were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority,
and not as their scribes.

NAB

DEV_J23Man, I thought to myself, as I first read through today’s readings, are these passages depressing or what?  Looking through, hopelessness was blaring in my face. A city under siege, finally surrendering and practically the whole nation being deported. God’s anger at a wayward people being bemoaned by the Psalmist. Even in the Gospel, Jesus makes it known it’s not enough to “do mighty deeds in His name.”

And there you have it. Seemingly one thing after another of failure; stories where nobody can get a leg up. I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely had seasons in my life that have felt exactly like that, where I feel I’m failing at every task and the world around is just too tough.

The winds of life often seem overwhelming. Once that instability hits, the temptation to take it into our own hands looms. I know I often find myself thinking: “If I can just gain control of this one area of my life, I’ll be better off. If I can just build myself this little fortress to protect myself, I’ll feel stronger.” And the truth is, it may seem easier, and we may even be able to fool others and, perhaps ourselves, for a time.

But we cannot fool God. He knows the most intricate workings of our hearts.

Most importantly though, God does not and will not ever leave us to our despair. Instead, His very character radiates Hope. Even hidden in today’s morose readings are glimpses of that beautiful lifeline: the answer to what holds our hearts stable and secure.

The formula for the strong foundation that will hold us up through the storms of life is made clear in the Gospel: Listen to God’s words, and act on them. First, surrender of our will must happen. Then we must be open to the teachings of the Church. As our walls are broken down, community is strengthened and we find a place to act. Finally, at all times we must practice full trust in God’s plans, only then will we find true security.

By seeking to do and to live His will, not merely observing it, He becomes the source of our security. He is the rock that will support us when life is a hurricane swirling about us. Fear, anxiety, overwhelming trials, all these lose power when our foundation is God.

Listen first. Then act. And know that Hope will carry you through.

Consider an area of your life where you’re prone to worry or where you attempt to take control. Ask God to help you surrender this area. May this quote from Saint Jeanne de Chantal encourage you: “Hold your eyes on God and leave the doing to him. That is all the doing you have to worry about.”

photo credit

Sarah Ortiz is a Catholic convert, and when not folding laundry, she can be found reading, experimenting in the kitchen, or writing at her blog. You can find out more about her here.

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