A fellow who was in danger of losing his home and family prayed for
help. God told him not to worry, that he would win the lottery and save his
home and family. Relieved, he waited. One week, two, a month, two months,
three. Nothing happened. Frustrated, he complained. "Lord, you said I'd
win the lottery and all would be fine." "My child", he heard the Lord
respond, "You have to buy a ticket."
This is one of two ways of looking at the way Christ interacts with us.
We were promised such and such, so there is no need for us to do anything.
Imagine a farmer who relies on the Lord and doesn't plant his crop. Not only
will his field remain devoid of any plant life (save weeds), but the people
needing the crop will go without.
The other is the "The Lord helps those who help themselves." Now we have
the farmer who plants his crop, diverts the river to water it, lays down tons
of pesticides to keep insects away, and other measures to keep mice and
rabbits from eating it. But soon, the rain comes and washes the crops away
because of too much water (while the community which relied on the river is
lacking water). The crop is tainted from the pesticides, while rot and decay
claim the rest. Both extremes miss something important. One says, "Let God
do it alone." While the other said "God won't do it so I better."
"Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new
covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the
covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to
bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I
was their husband, says the LORD. But this is the covenant which I will make
with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law
within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people" (Jeremiah 31:31-33).
"Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them
in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation; I will bring them back to
this place, and I will make them dwell in safety. And they shall be my
people, and I will be their God" (Jeremiah 32:37-38).
The notion missed is that of a covenant, an agreement. We follow the
Lord in our lives and in our heart, and He cares for us as a loving Father.
We bind ourselves to Him and He cares for us.
"Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me; for I am gentle and lowly in
heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My
burden is light" (Matthew 11:29-30). A yoke is a burden. We used to put a yoke on an ox to plow the fields. Christ is asking us to place His 'yoke' on ourselves. A burden which He uses
to guide us.
"And He said to all, 'If any man would come after Me, let him deny
himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me'" (Luke 9:23).
God asks little of us. Consider the painting of God and Adam in the
Sistine Chapel. Adam is reclining, almost relaxing, holding a finger out,
but just barely. Yet, it is God who is stretching out His arm to Adam. His
angels are supporting Him, helping Him reach Adam. With just a little more
effort on Adam's part, he would be 'touched' by God. God is doing all He can
to reach Adam.
While he was the Archbishop of Krakow, Pope John Paul II said how God
doesn't ask the impossible of us (that's His department). We do what we can
and He accepts that, uses that. Could the miracles at Lourdes have occurred
if St. Bernadette hadn't done what our Lady asked and dig into the soil,
releasing the spring? To our eyes, it would be too simple, too foolish.
Could the miracle of the Incarnation have occurred if Mary hadn't said yes?
In fact, no miracle could have occurred without some human involvement. In
fact, if it weren't for the involvement of the priest, we would not have the
miracle of the Holy Eucharist with us each and every day.
In fact, doesn't it seem that so few 'miracles' do occur precisely because we
either do nothing or want to do everything. We either don't buy the ticket,
or try to buy them all. We either sit back and figure God will heal all
wounds, mend all schisms, and we need to do nothing. Or we go off trying to
get laws passed, revoked, etc. that God works through political action
To each of us, God gave a gift. For some, it's merely to teach their
children. For others, to teach a parish's children. But whatever our
calling, business, home, politics, military, whatever, the heart is the place
we need to place God. Trusting in Him (even if it looks as though we've been
abandoned), hoping in Him (even when things look hopeless), and relying on
Him. When we do this, and people see that we do this, then what miracles
(great and small) might God perform through us.
God makes the plant grow, but we plant the seed.