Sunday Scripture readings, Oct. 24, 2021, Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1) Jer 31:7-9 Psalm 126:1-6
2) Heb 5:1-6 Gospel: Mk 10:46-52
Have faith in God’s will in the world around us
Discerning God’s will for our lives can begin with ourselves. We ask questions about what gifts God has given us, and this can lead us to see what he is calling us to do in service to him.
Discernment can also work the other way around, by asking: What is God doing in the world around us? If we can detect where he is at work, we may discover how he wants us to join in and work with him.
Today’s first reading gives us an insight into what God is up to. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God told the people of Israel, who were scattered in various lands, that he was going to bring them back to their homeland. “I will gather them from the ends of the earth,” he said.
The prophecy has been and is being fulfilled in Jesus, God’s son, through whom God brings not only Israelites but everyone back home — not to a particular land but into his kingdom and family. Jesus came to “gather into one the dispersed children of God” (Jn 11:52).
So that is what God is doing in the world today. He is drawing people together by bringing them to himself in Jesus. Even in this world, short of the kingdom, it is good to be gathered together. It is consolation after tears and streams of water in a dry land, to use Jeremiah’s imagery.
It must be admitted, however, that sometimes this divine activity is not easy to detect. Where I live, in Michigan, most parishes have been in numerical decline for years. Things look less like a gathering than a scattering.
And inside the church, it seems less and less like we are gathered and more and more like we are divided over issues political, theological, liturgical, even epidemiological.
It takes faith to accept what Scripture assures us God is doing, to believe he is doing it. But that is always the case. It took faith for the Israelites to believe Jeremiah’s prophecy when he first gave it.
With faith in God, we can ask him to share with us his desire to gather people together and to show us how we might cooperate with him. Then he will open our eyes to see how to help people around us hear him drawing them to himself, and how we can help fellow believers find unity in him.
Perrotta is the editor and an author of the “Six Weeks With the Bible” series, teaches part time at Siena Heights University and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.