27 June 2024
27 Jun 2024

Reflection on the Word of God

Daily reflection on the readings from the liturgy of the day

by  Piotr Surdel, scj

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The first reading from 2 Kings tells the sad history of Israel—the invasion of the Babylonians, which subsequently led to the fall of Judea, the destruction of the temple, and the exile. This event was not a surprise to readers of Scripture, as God had sent prophets to warn the people about the upcoming invasion and destruction due to their unfaithfulness to the covenant and their unjust treatment of the poor and marginalized. Through the prophets, God invited the people to return to him. For example, the prophet Joel conveyed the following words from the Lord: “Return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Rend your hearts, not your garments” (2:12-13). God is asking the people for an inner transformation of their hearts and a reorientation of their lives towards God.

The Hebrew prophetic books contain themes of sin and judgment. However, they also contain the message of hope and salvation, which reflects God’s faithfulness or steadfast love. For example, God said through the prophet Jeremiah: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land” (23:5). To the people in exile in Babylon, God said through the prophet Isaiah: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you” (49:15). What a magnitude of God’s faithfulness! Despite our shortcomings, He has never forgotten us. He has always been there, guiding and protecting us. This is a cause for deep gratitude and awe.

Faithfulness to God involves discernment, a process of understanding our relationship with God, God’s role in our lives, and seeking a response to God’s call to a unique and personal mission. Discernment involves reflecting on the purpose and meaning of our lives and vocations and being open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit to participate in the redemptive mission of Christ, as described in our Constitution 23. Through discernment, we seek to immerse ourselves in God’s merciful love, seeking to know God intimately and to love him deeply. In our Dehonian language, discernment is about being attentive to the movement of God within us before responding to God’s call with courage and availability in the spirit of ecce venio and ecce ancilla. We seek to be in union with Christ. In his book, The Interior Life, Fr. Dehon emphasized that being united with the Sacred Heart encompasses all aspects of our inner spiritual life. It involves faith, striving to imitate Jesus, expressing love and making amends, and seeking union with the Savior.

Faithfulness to God also involves metanoia, a change in our thinking and conforming ourselves to the Sacred Heart, the highest human expression of divine love. In today’s gospel, Jesus teaches us that those who listen to and act upon his words are like wise builders who construct their houses on solid rock, ensuring their stability and endurance. Between the moments of listening and acting is a moment or moments of meditating, yearning, and wrestling with our wants and needs. The desired outcome of our discernment is to let God take hold of our entire heart and to conform our will to God’s will. St. Ignatius of Loyola said it well in his prayer: “Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.” This language of completely surrendering oneself to God was frequently used by Fr. Dehon. His trust in God’s love enabled Fr. Dehon to endure and overcome the many trials and obstacles he faced as founder.

Faithfulness to God involves accompaniment, a process of allowing God to accompany us, and in turn, we accompany others in the service of Christ and His kingdom. In other words, after understanding our relationship with God and embracing metanoia, we become representatives for Christ and messengers of the Gospel. We participate in the redemptive work of Christ, proclaiming the love of God made manifest in the heart of Jesus. This service is not about fulfilling our own preferences, but about taking on the burden and yoke of the Lord. It’s about dedicating ourselves to serving others, without being swayed by our own priorities. Fr. Dehon’s writings remind us that, in imitation of the Sacred Heart, we must share in the sufferings of our brothers and strive to bring souls to the Heart of our Savior.

God’s faithfulness invites us into discernment, metanoia, and accompaniment. The journey of surrendering ourselves as a response to God’s faithfulness is never solitary. We have God as our companion, as well as our Dehonian confreres. We are indebted to our confreres who, despite their imperfections –– our imperfections –– have strived to be faithful to God through community, spiritual, and apostolic life. We are grateful also to those who came before us for their callings and inspirations. We thank God for their sacrifice, compassion, and unwavering commitment to the Reign of the Sacred Heart. Through their faithfulness, as well as their failures, they inspire us to deepen our faith and trust in God and seek opportunities to extend the love of the Sacred Heart to those in need. Like them, we too strive to live in a manner that reflects Christ’s merciful love, grace, and compassion.

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