Sunday, July 18th 2021 | By Rev. Michael P. Hanifin
Today’s readings remind us of how our God is compassionate and passionately in love with us. So often God, Jesus, and religious traditions have received “a bad rap” from the secular media and organizations that are opposed to the open and visible expression of faith and religion. To such individuals, God is seen as a mythical character that only unsophisticated and superstitious portions of the populations adhere to. To them, a belief in an all powerful and loving God is not to be taken seriously.
Sadly, there are people to listen to this rubbish. These false prophets of secularism have led people way from God and from a consistent practice of any religious faith. “Nones” is a term used today for those people who have no religious affiliation. They are an increasingly greater portion of the population numbering about 23.8 percent of the United States population. Their numbers are as great as the number of Evangelical Christians and Catholics. Those with no religious affiliation outnumber mainline Protestant Religious groups and “nones” are gaining steam – especially among the millennial generation (those born between 1981 to 1996).
“Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:1). In our First Reading the prophet Jeremiah addressed the false prophets of his day who misled God’s people away from the Lord. The Lord declared that He will restore His people by bringing back those who have gone astray and providing for them new shepherds so that they will “no longer fear and tremble.”
The Prophet Jeremiah portrays God’s infinite care and concern for our lives. We can see that God is the one who loved us first. Oftentimes, we are like the people who are blind to His goodness and enticed by sin — something we think will make us happy but does not. God is the one who constantly pursues us and gives us opportunities to say “yes” to Him. He wants to win us back, and ultimately, He will make us happy. It is funny that so many people who have abandoned God and the practice of religion seem so unhappy and resentful. God created us to have a full and happy life. Jesus said, “I came that you might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
So, we must ask ourselves: who or what is blinding us or leading us away from our ultimate happiness – the true happiness that can only be found in God? Stop for a moment and name that thing — money, status, a person, career, laziness, addiction, self-image, health, etc. — that could be leading you away from a full and happy relationship with God.
As Christian missionary disciples, deep down we really know that our true happiness is God. So, what are we waiting for? Take the leap of faith and allow yourself to radically love God in return. Invite Jesus into your heart and to live in your life.
As we begin this new week, let us name the things in our lives that are robbing us of our ultimate happiness, work to let go of them and let us strive to make Jesus our true shepherd by seeking Him in our daily lives.
To learn more about God as the true source of happiness, I invite you to keep your eye open for the next semester of ALPHA – Catholic Context that will begin in September. This fall we as well will have a Gift – Talent – Discernment Workshop. For more information on Alpha and Gift Discernment Workshop email Carol Nasr at Carol85@yahoo.com.