The Lord’s Call for an Undivided Heart
A few nights ago I went to bed after listening to Ralph Martin’s comments on a prophecy given in 1976 by Fr. Michael Scanlan. The message of the prophecy is sobering, and this part in particular caught my attention:
Son of man, do you see those churches which you can go to so easily now? Are you ready to see them with bars across their doors, with doors nailed shut? Are you ready to base your life only on me and not on any particular structure? Are you ready to depend only on me and not on all the institutions of schools and parishes that you are working so hard to foster?
I fell asleep praying, thinking about the prophetic words that just one year ago would have sounded foreign yet now strike a familiar chord.
In the middle of the night, I awoke with a verse of Scripture running clearly through my mind. I heard the words from the often-quoted verses, Jeremiah 29:11 and on: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” The peaceful presence of God accompanied the words, and so I fell back asleep with joy and peace.
The following morning as I made my way to my regular place of prayer, I remembered sweetly the words that God had given me in the night. And then I thought how often people, myself included, have quoted these verses perhaps a little carelessly. We mean well. We want to bless people with these comforting words. Yet at that moment in my morning prayer, the Lord reminded me that the verses were originally spoken by the weeping prophet, Jeremiah. He was the prophet who told the people of Judah that the time of exile was drawing near. Jeremiah had to proclaim his difficult message amidst the many false prophets who were saying that all would be well because God would rescue His people and save them from captivity. In fact, Jeremiah wrote the sweet and hopeful words, “For I know the plans that I have for you…” as a message from God to the people who were already in exile! Then I realized that God had given me a message meant both to confirm Fr. Scanlan’s prophecy and also to comfort us, His people, with a promise of hope.
As God led me from one thought to the next, I realized that the promise of hope hinges on the words, “You will seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Our hope lies squarely in the Lord. It always has, even when we didn’t live like it. Yet now it seems we become more aware of our inability to make things work as we would like them to, and we come face to face with the reality that God is the only answer. The Gospel calls for a radical surrender to Jesus. Consider these verses: “Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’” (Matt 16:24). “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matt 10:37). “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it” (Luke 17:33).
For as long as I can remember, in general, Christianity has cost us very little in America. It is supposed to cost us everything. Of course, there are some who have lived whole-heartedly for God during easy times; but for many of us, it takes a shake-up of our world for us to cling whole-heartedly to God. Such a shake-up seems to be occurring now. We are recognizing the absolute frailty of the human structures to which we have been clinging. While God never directly wills any evil, He can use the evils of the world to draw us to Himself and ultimately, give us greater gifts. I believe the days of flimsy Christianity are coming to an end. I hear God very actively calling whole-hearted followers to Himself. For those who choose to seek Him with all their hearts, God speaks a message of hope and a good future. This is not escapism. Remember that Jeremiah spoke that message to the people in exile. We are a people of hope, the happiest people on earth, because Jesus is always with us. He baptizes us with His own Spirit, who makes His home in us and fills us with peace and joy and love beyond understanding.
By Adriana Gonzalez