The reading from the prophet Habakkuk for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time may sound familiar. We hear about destruction and violence, strife and discord, misery and hatred. These are a regular part of what we see in the news, in our families and sometimes in our personal lives. Just as in the time of the Prophet Habakkuk, we cry out to God and ask Him to intervene.
Many of us still approach God as if He will wave a magic wand to make evil and misery cease. We expect God to come in and clean up the mess we have made, while we take little to no responsibility to work hard to build the kingdom of God here on earth and to be sources of hope for all we encounter — friends and enemies.
When Habakkuk calls out in the name of the people, God has a reassuring response and gives us a mission that remains pertinent today. God asks if we still believe in the hope and mission that He has given us, asking us to write it down so we don’t forget it. Writing it down is necessary because so many of our situations look different from the dream of God. So, what is the dream of God?
The dream of God is a promise that will be fulfilled. Every promise that God has made will come to completion. When God says He wants us to build His kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven, that is a promise that will be fulfilled. When God says that all will be one through the Holy Spirit, that means everyone — not just some of us. Our task is to remember the promise and do what we can to build it to completion.
In building the kingdom of God, we should recognize those places in our own families, churches and neighborhoods where we see violence, destruction, misery or ruin and do something about it. We should place ourselves in situations where we can make a difference. Instead of building our lives so that we never have to encounter difficult situations, we should be present so we can see the experience and do something about it.
We know that there is a lot of disagreement and hatred, yet we try to make sure we only mix with those who agree with us. We know that there are hungry people, but we choose to live in an area where we seldom have to encounter that. We know that in our own families there is disagreement and a lack of forgiveness, yet we continue to allow the silence and distance to build. The mercy of God we have been blessed with is meant to be shared with those around us, especially those in situations who need healing or forgiveness.
When you hear the Scriptures each weekend, do you take them as suggestions for life or as marching orders from God? When God asks us to remember His dream and to do everything we can to make it apparent to those around us, do you consider that a suggestion or an obligation of love that is given to us because we are disciples of Jesus and servants of God?
Blessings on you this week as we all continue to try to be the best disciples of Jesus by remembering God’s promises are meant for the whole world. And blessings on our attempts to make that promise come true through our own actions and the grace of God.
Father Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.