Eyes on the prize

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Don't get lost in the things of this world, but remain focused on our God who made them all

Why did God make you? For some of us of a certain age, the answer probably jumps into your mind immediately: “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.” The Baltimore Catechism – once upon a time we all learned it by heart, to be recited upon demand. We’ve come a long way in our faith since those days of rote memorization of scripted responses, and the Baltimore Catechism has become almost a punch line of sorts. Vatican II revitalized our faith formation, reminding us that we are not observers of the faith but active participants and partners in the Church, in the Sacraments, and in the Good News of our faith each and every day. We’ve come a long way this last half-century. The question today’s Gospel calls to mind, though, is: “Have we come so far we’ve lost our way?”
Jesus reminds us in this morning that Sodom and Gomorrah turned away from God to worship the small and insignificant things of this world. And they were destroyed because of it. Jesus is warning the people of Judah not to focus on the miracles, the healings, the great works they’ve seen performed in their midst – not to get lost in the insignificant manifestations of God’s great power – but to instead keep their focus on the “WHY” – on the Creator who gave them the wonders. But they seem to have turned away, lost in the “show” and missing the reason. And Christ is calling them to repent before it’s too late, lest they too miss out on their eternal salvation because they can’t lift their heads above what they’ve seen.
But here’s the thing – Jesus is talking not just to Capernaum, to Bethsaida and the other towns where he showed the ancient peoples the goodness and mercy of his miraculous works. He’s talking to us today. Look around this morning – this beautiful building, full of light and cool air in the heat of summer. The food we’ll eat today, the bed we slept in last night, the simple gift of our very lives – we take it all for granted, as something we’ve earned or we’re entitled to. And too often we spend our lives chasing after these small and insignificant things of this world, instead of looking to the one who made them all.
Christ used miracles and good works to call the people of ancient Israel to repentance and faith in God, to show them the way to salvation. Today he’s calling out to us in the Gospel – reminding us that all the “stuff” we spend our lives pursuing – the money, the wealth, the security and power – it’s all just noise. The reality is that we haven’t come that far from Christ’s lament to Capernaum, or from the doctrine of the Baltimore Catechism. God wants us to repent and turn back to loving, serving, praising, and glorifying him. He wants us to raise our scope above the things of this world and turn back to worshiping their creator who is God. After all – it’s why God made us.
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