You’ve probably heard the joke about the person who refuses to leave his home while floodwaters rise, refusing attempts at rescue because, as he tells each would be rescuer that comes by boat, and helicopter, “God will save me.” When he dies and gets to heaven, he asks God, “Why didn’t you save me?” “Who do you think sent the boat and the helicopter?” God replies.
In today’s first reading (from 2 Chronicles), the people of Israel are facing a disaster of their own making. “In those days, all the princes of Judah, the priests and the people added infidelity to infidelity, practicing all the abominations of the nations and polluting the Lord’s temple which he had consecrated in Jerusalem.” Not good.
What does God do? Tries to rescue them. “Early and often did the Lord, the God of their fathers, send his messengers to them, for he had compassion on his people and his dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised his warnings, and scoffed at his prophets.”
God’s love and compassion is unlimited and unconditional. God is constantly trying to rescues us from our own challenges and disasters, if only we can recognize and accept it.
Now, as I read this, I wonder if God is doing the same in our world all the time — early and often sending messengers to help us out of our self-inflicted messes. For the most part, I myself am inconsistent at best when it comes to following God’s word. I don’t feed the hungry, serve the poor, or visit the sick or imprisoned, at least not on a regular basis.
So I wonder: Are there messengers in my life calling me to a better way — messengers that I either don’t see or see but ignore? I had considered volunteering at a local group home for, well, a couple of years. But, like many of my good intentions, this one didn’t go anywhere.
Then, at one of our children’s softball games of all things, I met the director of the group home. She was one of the team’s coaches! Maybe she was a messenger, sent to get me into action. I’m so glad we met, because I soon started volunteering and I love it.
Are there others messengers out there calling out of our self-absorbed isolation? Probably. I think about it every time I see someone with a cardboard sign asking for help, and when I’m spending money on some luxury like a vacation, or when my children are whining about the miniscule deprivations they must endure (“I’m hungry. I need a snack. Can you buy me something?”).
In today’s Gospel, St. John tells us that “God did not send his Son to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” This is, of course, the heart of the Gospel message. God’s love and compassion is unlimited and unconditional. God is constantly trying to rescues us from our own challenges and disasters, if only we can recognize and accept it.
Bill Peatman writes from Napa. He may be reached at [email protected].