God doesn’t give up on us, nor should we

It is so easy to forget the blessings that are right before our eyes! Often when I am driving to UMass Dartmouth, I will take the “long way” to get off the Cape. Instead of just jumping right onto Route 28 and heading over the Bourne Bridge, I drive along Shore Road in Pocasset and Monument Beach, a route that takes me along the shore. It reminds me of how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place. 

There are times when I take living in Southeastern Massachusetts for granted. My mind is on other things: things I have to get done, administration, a student or parishioner who may be going through a difficult time, a meeting coming up, etc. Sometimes those things prevent me from recognizing the beauty around me. Sometimes those things keep me distracted in my prayer or even finding time to pray. Sometimes these distractions also lead me to take for granted the people who are important in my life. Sound familiar?

In Psalm 145 the psalmist says, “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him.” Over the years I have come to have a great appreciation of the psalms. They were written as prayers and were used by Jesus Himself in His daily prayer. As such, we can use them to begin our conversation with God. However, they are also the Word of God. This means that not only are they helpful in that we can use the words to begin that conversation, the Lord will use these words to draw us deeper into the mystery of His love and presence. 

“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him.”

The Lord keeps His promises, that is a fact. How do I know that? Well, if God is truth and perfection, it is not possible for Him to break His promises. To do so would be an imperfect act. He doesn’t just enter into agreements with people, He enters into covenants. Covenants are forever. The breakdown in these covenants isn’t God, it is us.

We become distracted or tired and forget that God is near. We don’t recognize Him right in front us. We fail to see the evidence of His existence. We become focused on ourselves. Like the people in last week’s first reading, when this happens, we make ourselves the standard. We begin to complain and in doing so further isolate ourselves from others.

Everything about the Church is to help one another realize that “the Lord is near.” The psalm also reminds us though that we need to make an effort here as well. He is near “to those who call upon Him.” The psalmist writes in verse two: “Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever.” 

We are reminded that each day we need to make the effort to recommit ourselves to God. Faith isn’t a passive activity. When we commit ourselves to Christ as His disciples (which happens with the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist), we are committing ourselves to conversion, of turning our hearts and minds to God.

We will fail at times. We will get tired, we will forget to look for God and we will take for granted the blessings in our lives. This shouldn’t deter us though. The psalmist says in verse eight, “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness.” In other words, God does not give up on us, we shouldn’t give up on ourselves or Him. When we become aware that we have failed to recognize God’s love and presence or we have made it “all about me,” the Lord helps us refocus and begin anew.

Anchor columnist Father Frederici is pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Pocasset and diocesan director of Campus Ministry and Chaplain at UMass Dartmouth and Bristol Community College.

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