December 11: Faithful Decision-Making
Jeremiah 21:1–22:30; Romans 3:1–20; Proverbs 17:1–28
“I asked God, and He didn’t answer me.” When I hear people say this, I’m often tempted to reply, “Haven’t you read the prophets?” Because sometimes what people are really saying is, “I asked God to do something for me, and He didn’t answer in the way I expected, so He must not be listening or He must not care.” Yet the prophets repeatedly tell us the opposite. God is not human, so He does not make decisions like a human. Instead, He sees all possible outcomes and knows the best route. We simply struggle to understand the wisdom of His decisions.
One particular event in the book of Jeremiah illustrates this point. When King Zedekiah (the last king of Judah) asks Jeremiah to intercede with Yahweh on behalf of Jerusalem against King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, Jeremiah gives an unexpected reply: Yahweh has refused to do so. He will not intercede for His own people. Rather, He will make Nebuchadnezzar’s task easier (Jer 21:1–7).
Before we view Yahweh as harsh and unforgiving, let’s recall that this occurs after God’s people have been rebelling against Him for hundreds of years. Even so, in Jer 21:8–10, God’s people are given a choice: They can remain in Jerusalem and die—for Yahweh has deemed that the city must fall—or they can enter what appears to be death but is actually life. Yahweh sets up a faith choice for them: “He who goes out and goes over to the Chaldeans who are laying siege to you will live, and his life will be to him as booty” (Jer 21:9).
Even in the midst of unbearable circumstances, Yahweh offers a way of grace. Even when everything seems to fail, we can decide to choose faith. This story mirrors what we experience on our deathbed. It also mirrors the decision we face every day of our lives: Will we listen to the voices of the world, or will we listen to the prophets who proclaim honest indignation and faithful decision-making? Will we stay in the city, or will we go where God calls us—no matter how difficult it may seem or how improbable?
Where is God calling you? What must you walk away from? What faith decision is before you?
John D. Barry
Barry, J. D. – Kruyswijk, R., Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan (Bellingham, WA 2012).
The Church has proclaimed the Marian dogmas in direct service to faith in Jesus Christ, and thus not primarily in devotion to the Mother: first Mary’s perpetual virginity and her being the Mother of God, and then, after a long period of maturing and reflecting, her freedom from original sin and her bodily assumption into the heavenly glory. These dogmas safeguard the original faith in Christ, true God and true man: two natures in one single person. They also preserve the indispensable eschatological tension by pointing, in the Assumption, to our common destiny, which is everlasting life. And they safeguard faith—at present challenged—in God the Creator who in full sovereignty can freely interfere with the laws of nature (and this is the meaning, in our days less understood than ever, of the truth about Mary’s perpetual virginity). After all, as the Council once again reminds us, Mary, “having entered deeply into the history of salvation, in a way unites in her person and re-echoes the most important doctrines of the faith” (Lumen Gentium, no. 65). The Church’s Mariology comprises the appropriate correlation between scripture and Tradition, the necessary integration of both: the four Marian dogmas are clearly based on Sacred scripture. But there we are dealing, as it were, with a seed that germinates and bears fruit in the living Tradition as expressed in liturgy, in the sensitivity of the faithful, and in the investigation of theology guided by the Magisterium. It is precisely through her person, being a Jewish maiden who has become the Mother of the Messiah, that Mary ties into one living and lasting unity Israel and Christianity, the synagogue and the church. She is, in a way, the connecting link, without which the Faith (as is happening nowadays) is in danger of losing its balance insofar as the New Testament, on the one hand, is transported again into the Old Testament or, on the other hand, the Old Testament is simply dismissed. Through Mary, in contrast, we can live out the unity of all Sacred scripture.
From: Zur Lage des Glaubens, pp. 108f.
Ratzinger, J., Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year (ed. I. Grassl) (San Francisco 1992) 389-390.