Recently, a new year dawned, and with it hope that we could look ahead and start over. I don’t think any of us were naïve enough to think that January 1 had magical powers and that the fabric of the culture would suddenly change, but we are ready for a new chapter.
Looking at today’s readings, I am drawn to Psalm 95. The Psalmist begins by calling us to worship, to gratitude: Come let us sing for joy to the Lord, let us shout aloud to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
Do we live like God is the rock of our salvation? It is so easy to try to build our hope and trust on a different rock. For many of us, this beautiful country we live in, set apart from much of the world, has been a place in which we place much trust and much hope. Perhaps our rock has become the home we have built and the material possessions that provide us comfort and identity. I know, for me, this vocation has been a rock, an anchor, and a life-line. But what happens when our civil liberties are threatened, or when our income dwindles, or when our children make choices that hurt us and hurt the Lord? If we do not truly place our hope and our salvation in the Lord, we will drown in fear, anxiety, and hopelessness.
The Psalmist goes on: For the Lord is the great God, the great king above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. So often, I live as if this world does not belong to God, as if he has not prepared a better place for us, or that he doesn’t long for my eyes to look up and find peace. The frenetic noise of the world is not the voice of God. He longs for us to find our rest, but we must come to rest in him. I have been crying out to the Lord a lot lately, asking him what he is asking of me, how he is calling me, and again and again, I have heard the Lord say to me, Rest, and be filled with the hope of your salvation. We are the people of his pasture, and the flock is under his care. He is not surprised at where we find ourselves, as a nation, as Catholics, as mothers. There is no battle before us that he has not already won. Today’s Gospel tells a story of a demon who runs in the face of the truth of who Jesus is. That is the God we serve!
This world, and all its hate and unrest, its confusion and fear, is trying to live on shifting sand and screaming at us that no greater foundation exists. Let the words of Matthew bring you peace: The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light; on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death, light has risen. The God who feeds the sparrows, who counts every hair on your head, who collects your tears in a jar, is sovereign, and all he asks is that we come to him and rest. He will fight every battle, and he will win. Rest in the goodness of the Lord.