Our relationship with God is about what is in our hearts


Our relationship with God is about what is in our hearts

This coming Sunday, we will hear the parable about the two brothers and how they respond to a request by their father. One son seems willing to obey his father, while the other does not. We do not know why the second son didn’t do the work. He appears agreeable initially; do we have any reason to doubt him? Did he mean to do it, but something else came up, or was he appeasing his father, or maybe the work was just too hard? On the other hand, the first son is disrespectful from the start. Why does he end up doing the work? This we don’t know either; it could have been that he realized his mistake and felt badly for having treated his father that way. It may have been that he saw that he would be at a disadvantage after his brother agreed right away.

The story goes in another direction, and we hear about tax collectors, prostitutes, and righteousness. We know that God is all forgiving and merciful, so why would Jesus say that the tax collectors and prostitutes would realize the kingdom of God before the chief priest and elders? Won’t we all be forgiven? Could it be because those on the margins understood that they needed God, while the others felt they could achieve the kingdom independently? Is this what the brothers figured out? It seems like a lot to unpack.

We have all heard the saying that you often need to hit rock bottom before you can begin to climb out of the hole. Do we hit rock bottom when we have been reaching out to others for support, or is it more likely because we haven’t? It can be that we sometimes give ourselves to prayer when we have nowhere else to turn. This is not a problem for God; God is always happy to hear from us, even after we have exhausted all other possibilities. Those of us who have known great struggles are used to talking to God and being in relationship with them. While the marginalized seem to be turning to God because they have no choice, I believe their action is intentional because they have a deep understanding of God facilitated by a growing relationship with him.

As always, we live within the paradox that is our Christian Faith. How do we reconcile that we need to be in relationship with God to have peace and that we need to stop trying to do everything ourselves with the fact that God is within us? We can’t depend on ourselves, yet we must attend to God that is within. What this tells us is that we need to spend time in prayer. We must take to God everything God already knows about us. Here is where we not only know God more fully but ourselves as well. Here is where we can understand ourselves as God means for us to be, which is the best version of ourselves. As those on the margins often realize before we do, it is about being intentional in our relationship with God. We must not only say the right words but also follow through with the right action. We must be intentional with God, which can only come from our hearts, where God lives.

By Serena Shaw
Vocation Team – Oblate Associate
Phone: (780) 231-3066
Email: serenashaw641@gmail.com