31st Week in Ordinary Time
Romans 14:7-12;Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14; Luke 15:1-10
This is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. (Romans 14:9)
The development of technology is one long story of people’s desire to control their surroundings. Air conditioning tempers the heat. Agricultural techniques multiply crop yields. Communication devices let us talk to people on the other side of the world.
While much of this control is pleasant and beneficial, we do seem to have an insatiable desire to gain control of new aspects of our lives. Think, for instance, how medical technology has given rise to fierce controversy, as humans begin to grapple with the possibility of controlling our mortality. The technology may be new, but the desire is not.
Paul speaks of this in today’s first reading, reminding us that our lives are not, and never will be, under our control: “whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8). Though we often chafe at the reality of our own limits, they really are a blessing to us. God wants us to give over our fear and our struggle to control our lives so that we can be free to live for him.
As much as we try to control our lives, we often want to control the people around us as well. Paul makes this connection when he moves on and asks, “Why then do you judge your brother? Or you, why do you look down on your brother?” (Romans 14:10). It is easy to hold people to the expectations we have of them, almost as though we have an insider’s knowledge of God’s plans for them. But Paul reminds us that each of us will face God on his judgment seat, and that we are better off leaving this responsibility to him.
Again, this is a freeing message! Just as Jesus’ death and resurrection free us from fear about our own lives, so do they free us from the need to nag or cajole our families and friends into doing what we think they should do—even when it comes to their faith. After all, it’s up to the Lord, not us, to convert people.
Jesus is inviting us all into a life dedicated to him, free from anxiety and judgment, free to together enjoy God’s goodness towards us.
“Lord, you really do have everything under control. Help me to surrender my life to you.”~WAU