Ordinary Time 27, Year B

The eyes of all look hopefully to you; you give them their food in due season (Ps. 145:15)

Commenting on “I will feed them with judgment” (Ez. 34:16), St. Augustine says in his sermon “On Pastors”:

He of whom we have despaired is converted suddenly and
becomes very good. He from whom we had anticipated a
great deal suddenly fails and becomes very bad.

So, continues the saint, “Neither our fear nor our hope is certain.” But the true Shepherd’s judgment is right on the mark. And that is why this Shepherd, knowing what he is doing, gives to each sheep his due.

It is just as well that this is so. It is to our advantage that God judges rightly and gives to each his due. It is just as well that God’s love for us, as we affirm in the collect prayer this Sunday, surpasses all our hopes and desires and is able to grant to us even those things we do not expect or even dare ask for.

This is just as well. For without God’s sure knowledge and generous love that go beyond our limitations as human beings and surpass our capacity, I do not believe I will be able to look back to the beginning or, much less, to discover and grasp what the Creator originally intended for spouses. I cannot even see beyond the end of my nose many times, how will I be able to see and comprehend what was done and determined so long ago in the beginning? Moreover, my concessions to my weakness and to the hardness of my heart have made these exceptions of mine supplant, rather than confirm, the rule so that they conceal the rule rather reveal it.

It is just as well that “it was fitting that he, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the leader to their salvation perfect through suffering.” If it were not for this divine judgment, I do not think human logic would be able to take God’s foolishness as wisdom and his weakness as strength. Had God’s thinking not intervened in human judgment, would it have occurred to anyone to think that he who consecrates and those who are consecrated all have one origin, so that the former is not ashamed to call the latter brothers? Among us human beings usually, someone who expects to confer consecration considers himself superior to those receiving it. And it is due to this same human mentality that I find it bothersome that children, minors, those not at my level, should meddle in serious matters pertaining to adults and VIPs. It does seem to me that we human beings are more inclined toward inequality and disunity than to equality and unity. Little wonder, then, that I have trouble grasping the ideal that both the book of the prophet Malachy as well as the letter to the Ephesians uphold, namely: in the fidelity and indissolubility of marriage are reflected and effected the fidelity and indissolubility of the covenant between God and his people, between Christ and the Church (Mal. 2:14-16; Eph. 5:31-32).

It is just as well that we depend on the judgment of the all-knowing and all-loving God who warns us, feeds us with the finest wheat, and satisfies us with honey from the rock. For left to the hardness of my heart to follow my own designs, surely, I will run the risk of being caught in my own schemes (cf. Ps. 81:9, 13, 17; 10, 2). To depend on God’s disposition is to find someone who defends his people and shows mercy to his servants. God’s providence does not desire that I continue being like my idols of gold, silver, or whatever, that have mouths but do not speak, eyes but do not see, ears but do not hear, noses but do not smell, hands but do not feel, feet but do not walk, nor does sound rise from the throats nor is there breadth in their mouths (Ps. 115; 135).

If I resist idols, by the grace of God, I think I will be better disposed to stand fast as well against those seeking nothing but pleasure and amusement, to borrow St. Vincent’s words, those “who will strive to turn us away from those good works we have begun.” It is just a well that God opens my eyes that I may see the original sources and spirit that are normative and I may return to communion with him who began good works in the beginning and whose love surpasses my desires and merits, my fear and hope.