‘Have you ever given any thought about how God acts?’
God acts with abundance, as described in the homily below by Deacon James Sinacore on October 24, 2021, at St. John Vianney Church, Northlake, Illinois.
Have you ever given any thought about how God acts?
If we take time to seriously think about it, we will come to understand that God acts with abundance. Just think; 100 years ago, in 1921, none of us existed. No one on earth knew us or could even have imagined our personalities.
Then one day we came into being. At the moment of our conception, God gave us everything we needed to complete human beings. Eyes to see … ears to hear … a brain with which to think … bones, muscles, and nerves to allow our bodies to move.
While we were still inside of our mothers, all of our needs for nourishment and life were provided. When we were born, we had parents and family to care for us. We had food, clothing, medical care, and so on. As we grew, we encountered the world around us. And what did we see? A barren land? A territory that offers only hardship?
No. We encountered a land filled with life and wonderment. There were trees and plants of different sizes and varieties. Flowers with such assortment and color that we can hardly name them all. God gave us animals, some of which became our companions like dogs and cats. Others he gave us for food.
He gave us air to breathe and light to illuminate the paths where we walk. He gave us one another. Many of us fell in love, married, and began new life. And the story goes on and on and on.
God doesn’t give us anything in a stingy way. When He gives, He gives in abundance. We see this in a powerful way in our first reading from the book of Jeremiah. The text says: Behold … I will bring them back from the land of the north.
What is God referring to here? Well, in the past I have mentioned that the Davidic kingdom existed for a while in two main parts, the North and the South.
Due to Israel’s persistent lack of faithfulness, God let the Assyrians come in and completely destroy the Northern Kingdom. This occurred around the year 721 BC. The destruction was so extensive that the Northern Kingdom never regained itself. These are the people who are commonly referred to as the Lost Tribes of Israel.
What was God’s response to all of this? Did He say: “Well guys, what do you want from me? You made your bed, now lie in it.”
Through the prophet Jeremiah God tells His people that He is going to regroup them. And what is this regrouping going to look like? Is He going to work only with a few good people, maybe those few who were good Israelites and didn’t deserve to get their skulls cracked by the Assyrians? Is God setting up an insiders club where only a few of the elite can be members?
No, here is what He says — and listen carefully to this language.
I will gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst. The mothers and those with child; they shall return as an immense throng. They departed in tears, but I will console them and guide them; I will lead them to brooks of water, on a level road, so that none shall stumble.
What is God revealing here? God is saying that he will regroup his people and He will do it in a generous way. He will make it easy with everything that people need.
Why is God being so good with such generosity? Why doesn’t He just let people stew in their just desserts for disobedience?
We have the answer in the text. The next line says: For I am a Father to Israel. As a good father, God lets us learn our lessons and then opens His arms to embrace us and shows us the depth of His love.
You might be thinking, “Wait a minute. God says He will bring His people together in abundance, yet you just said that the Northern kingdom never regained itself. What gives?”
Well, you see, I believe the passage is not about the Northern kingdom per se. It’s pointing to the Church.
If you go into the Book of Jeremiah and you read past the end of our passage to Jeremiah 31:31 you read: The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. That is the covenant that would be established by our Lord Jesus Christ. And how did Our Lord ratify that covenant? How did he make it binding? Did He sign a piece of paper like you and I do to make a contract irrevocable? Did He go through some common cultural ritual?
No. He ratified the new covenant in His Blood.
Here again, we see the abundance of God in action. If people were asked in a survey how God could show His love for His people, Who could have ever imagined that God would take on flesh and blood and then ratify a covenant, a sacred family bond, in that blood?
Tell this to Muslims and they will think that you are deluded. Their vision of God is so beyond human existence that they can’t imagine a hypostatic union of someone who is both true God and true man.
If you tell Muslims that this divine body and blood is given for us to eat, they will think that you are absolutely out of your mind. Yet that is what we have in the Eucharist.
Our Lord ratifies the new covenant in His blood and then gives us His blood to consume so that we can fully embrace what He has done for us. For our eternal salvation, God has not given us mere symbols. He has not spoken trite poetic words that just make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. In an act of abundance, He has laid before us a banquet. Food beyond our wildest imagination. The bread of angels. Panis Vitae – the Bread of Life.
As St. Thomas Aquinas would write in his famous prayer: O SACRUM convivium, in quo Christus sumitur. O Sacred Banquet in which Christ is received. This banquet is not just for the elite, the upper crust, or insiders. With this banquet, God desires to bring to Himself people who have been beaten down, who have been alienated and in exile.
He wants to gather them from the ends of the world with the blind and the lame in their midst. The mothers, those with child, and yes, even those who have repented of killing their children in the womb. With this banquet, people can come as an immense throng. He desires to lead everyone to brooks of water on a level road so that none shall stumble.
As Bartimaeus threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus for the sight of his eyes, we too should throw aside any doubts or misgivings that we may have. Spring up and be a part of the immense throng being gathered from the ends of the world as we partake in the Food that establishes intimacy with God, bringing us to our spiritual destination. A food that is granted from the abundance of God, that is beyond anything we can imagine: