Baruch, an Old Testament prophet, is really telling us to make God, not us, the center of our universe. When we see ourselves as the child to God the Father, then we will be rewarded. As Saturday’s alleluia response proclaims: “Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.”
Image by Paul Zilvanus Lonan
By Norm McGraw
If you’ve read some of my previous reflections, you may know that I have had frequent philosophical discussions with an agnostic friend of mine. Recently, he mentioned to me that if God exists and man has free will, then the Bible may be an excellent book of advice on how to get “on track” when we “lose our way.”
The two readings from the Bible for Saturday, October 7th, are an example of this.
The first, a reading from the Book of Baruch, focuses on how we can get back into God’s good graces after we’ve fallen to sin. The book is named after Baruch ben Neriah, a scribe of the prophet Jeremiah, whose writing in Scripture precedes Baruch by two books. Reportedly written five years after the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., the book of Baruch reflects the conditions of the Israelite exiles from Babylon, focusing on the residents of Jerusalem and the Diaspora. It also discusses the idea of wisdom.
Baruch preaches to his people that they have suffered because they have forsaken God. He states (Bar 4:5-12, 27-29): “Remember, Israel, you were sold to the nations not for your destruction; it was because you angered God that you were handed over to your foes. For you provoked your Maker with sacrifices to demons, to no-gods; you forsook the eternal God who nourished you…”
Then, Baruch explains how to restore a good relationship with God. He points out: “He (God) who brought this upon you will remember you. As your hearts have been disposed to stray from God, turn now ten times the more to seek him; for he who has brought disaster upon you will, in saving you, bring you back enduring joy.”
Baruch is really telling us to make God, not us, the center of our universe. When we see ourselves as the child of God the Father, then we will be rewarded. As Saturday’s alleluia response proclaims: “Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.”
The second reading, from the tenth chapter of the gospel of Luke, describes the rewards the disciples of Jesus received from following God’s word. In the ninth chapter, Luke recounts the miracles of Jesus, like his feeding the five thousand and the transfiguration that his apostles witnessed. When his seventy-two disciples returned from preaching his divine message, Jesus detailed their rewards in Luke 10:17-24. “Behold, I have given you the power ‘to tread upon serpents and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy, and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
Continuing, Jesus explains the mystery of the Holy Trinity: “At that very moment, he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said... ‘All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”
While none of us have been given the power ‘to tread upon serpents,’ as his disciples received, we can enjoy His rewards if we accept God as a child and a loving father. As Jesus said: “I give your praise, Father Lord of heaven and earth, for although you had hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to the childlike.”
Baruch reinforced this analogy of our relationship to the Almighty when he wrote: “Fear not, my children, call out to God!”
When we reject God or stray away from his Word, as the Book of Baruch clearly states, bad things will happen to us. The solution is to surrender to God’s love and grace.
An effective tool we can use is reciting the rosary. Coincidentally, this week, the Church memorializes Our Lady of the Rosary. After all, the rosary is really a Scripture-based prayer. With this simple act, we focus on the mysteries of our faith, such as the Nativity of Jesus Christ, whose birth we believe was caused through divine intervention.
Reciting the rosary—along with reading Scripture—are effective ways to strengthen our relationship with our Maker.
All we need to do is surrender to His grace.