My scripture reflection for my 19th Annotation retreat today is:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.
In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.
In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the one who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,
so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ.
Paul sounds slightly Calvinistic here in his letter to the Ephesians. But do I not believe that God has a plan for me? For the world?
But what of the things that I have no control over? The things that go awry? How could these too be part of the plan? The plan that God has to “sum all things up in Christ?”
Last week, I found out that a former spiritual directee of mine was dealing with the death of his niece and nephew. Two children who were killed by their own mother, his sister-in-law. I don’t think I’ve ever been faced with such an encounter with evil. If God knitted these children in their mother’s womb, as Psalm 139 tells us (which was our reading last week in this retreat), then I’ve got a huge problem with God’s plan.
And I think that St. Paul guides me back to a more holistic place.
God is just as angry at senseless violence as I am–probably more. Some, maybe even most, go to that immediate place of desolation when tragedy strikes. “God ain’t here. How could God allow these things to happen?”
Perhaps that’s where evil indeed hopes each one of us ends up–hopeless and with a disdain for God. Evil hopes that we turn the blame for evil on God. That we believe that redemption isn’t possible. God can’t make all THIS right, can he?
J. Glen Murray, SJ, the great liturgist always says that “God may not come when you expect it but God always comes to make a way out of no way.”
And usually when God comes it’s always just in time.
And that time was exactly the time that God had in mind all along. That God has loved us for the very opportunity to redeem us. To show us His love goes far beyond tragedy into healing. It is what brings us hope–the hope that exists beyond our mere need to think that we are in control. God’s plan continues to make all things new again.
All we have to do is stay faithful and believe that God has a plan…
And that madness and tragedy is not it.