Be Close to God but Avoid Over-Familiarity

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Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us?” (Matthew 13:54-56).*_

Once upon a time, a native doctor set up his shrine very close to a Church. So, every day, the church members would pray against the activities of the native doctor, asking God to send fire to him and burn down his shrine. This went on for many years. One day, the native doctor’s shrine burnt down completely, and nothing was left. So the native doctor took the church to court, accusing them of arson.

On the day of the trial, the church members showed up in the court denying any involvement in the fire incident, but the native doctor argued that they had burnt down his shrine (his source of livelihood) with their powerful prayers. Bewildered at the case, the judge said: “Here is a very special case – church members who do not believe in the power of prayers but an unbeliever who is fully convinced that prayers are powerful.”

When you do something continuously for a while, you soon begin to take it for granted. It is unsurprising to see many Christians today who no longer believe in the power of prayers and look down on God and His ability to intervene in their lives. Even though most of us pray, we do not even expect the things we pray for.

In our Gospel passage, Jesus is unhappy with his people due to their over-familiarity. Have I become too familiar with God? Do I still have the fear of God in me? Do I value the Bible or treat it as just one of those books?

Today, we celebrate the life of the priest Saint John Vianney. His story shows that God is a God of second chances. We may be weak, but God never gives up on us. John Vianney struggled with his seminary studies, he lagged when others were far ahead, but God gave him a second chance. Eventually, we remember him today not because of his academic degrees but because of his simplicity, devotion, and love for souls. He is the patron of Parish Priests.

Here is one of the Prayers of St. John Vianney: I love You, O my God, and my only desire is to love You until the last breath of my life. I love You, O my infinitely lovable God and I would rather die loving You than live without loving You. I love You, Lord, and the only grace I ask is to love You eternally. My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love You, I want my heart to repeat it to You as often as I draw breath. Amen

Let us pray: Almighty ever-living God, deepen my love for you and grant that I may never take you for granted. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

Bible Study: Leviticus 23:1,4-11,15-16,27,34-37, Ps. 81:3-6,10-11, Matthew 13:54-58).*

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu


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