1 July, Wednesday — Obedience

Wednesday of Week 13 in Ordinary Time

Amos 5:14-15, 21-24
Mt 8:28-34

“Seek good and not evil so that you may live; and that the Lord, God of Hosts, may really be with you as you claim he is.”            

As a parent of a preschooler, I find that I (as most preschooler parents do I’m sure) am constantly drawing boundaries with my son to keep him in line. On the one hand as his mother, I love him with my whole heart and this I tell him constantly, and that I will always be with him no matter what. On the other hand, I have to also show him that he needs to be responsible for the consequences of his actions when he misbehaves, and it is not uncommon to hear myself saying, “Do this or else you don’t get…” or “Don’t do that, if not (insert punishment)”. Usually it relates to the removal of some sort of privilege, like television or play time, or a favourite food or toy. It isn’t a long-term solution though, but for the present it does compel him to toe the line and hopefully one day, he will understand the concept of accountability for his actions, good or bad.

This actually isn’t so very different from today’s reading except from a bigger and more significant perspective. God, our Father, assured us that He will always be with us and never leave us or forsake us (Joshua 1:5). Yet we must remember that these words were spoken to people who were upright and feared God, people who were obedient and who honoured God. These were good people — their actions were in accordance with their words. And God was always with them, ensuring triumph in everything that they did. And so, these people could confidently say that God was indeed with them.  

And what of the flip side? Do you recall the sons of Eli who blasphemed God with their wicked ways (1 Sam 2)? God was so incensed by their terrible deeds and Eli’s failure to admonish them that He withdrew His blessing from Eli and his family by declaring that once He, God Almighty, had promised that Eli’s house and the house of his father “would walk before Me forever. But now the Lord declares: Far be it from Me!” (1 Sam 2:30) This He ensured came to pass when the Israelites were defeated by the Philistines and the ark of the covenant was captured and Eli’s sons were killed. The Israelites had taken God’s protection and blessing for granted and because of their disobedience, God turned His back on them (see Micah 3:11).

This lesson is still relevant to us. It is easy for us to claim that God is with us, what harm can come to us? Yet on the other hand, our thoughts, words and deeds may not be synchronous with what God would want from us. If we are being hypocritical in the way we live our lives, would God not withdraw our ‘privileges’ – His blessing – from us because we have refused to obey? If we expect our children to obey us on pain of punishment, what more God our Father?

As children of God, we need to also be accountable for our actions or suffer the consequences of it. God loves us immensely and unconditionally, that is without any doubt. Even though we have sinned, He is merciful and forgiving as any parent would be. But He also expects us to be faithful to Him. “The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.” (2 Chr 15:2). Let us then live our lives as a reflection of God’s Word that we too can truly claim that He is indeed with us.

(Today’s Oxygen by Annette Soo)

Prayer: Lord, forgive us for the times when we have failed to live according to Your Word, when we have forsaken You and taken Your promise in our stride. Forgive us for the hurt and disappointment we have caused You. We pray for the awareness and strength to correct ourselves.     

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, we thank you for Your mercy, blessing and, most of all, Your unconditional love despite our shortcomings.

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