July 21, 2011 - Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

We modern people hold a strange contradiction in our minds. On the one hand, we think that times are changing so rapidly that there is almost no similarity between ourselves and people only a hundred years ago, let alone 3000 years ago. The response, “Things were different then” is used to explain away any difficulty we have in understanding the Scriptures. On the other hand, it surprises us that God acts so differently in the Old Testament, particularly in the early parts. This is a contradiction because if things really were so different back then, it is completely logical that God would act differently. God always speaks to us in a way we can understand, not only in our spoken language but using appropriate symbols and actions.

We tend to exaggerate how different people were 3000 years ago. They were a lot like us. There is nothing new under the sun. The only really important way that people have changed in the past four millennia is in our religious sense. Jesus could have come to Earth whenever he wanted to; he could have led the people out of Egypt himself. Instead, he used Moses and the prophets to prepare the people. For 2000 years after he called Abraham, he got the people of Israel ready for his coming. Many prophets and righteous people longed to see him but did not.

It has now been 2000 years since he came. Some people would say that the Gospel has made very little progress in changing the world but they cannot see properly. Nowadays, helping the poor is considered a good thing. Nowadays, slavery is considered a bad thing. Nowadays, human sacrifice is almost non-existent. This is not only true among Christians but worldwide. The Gospel has changed the world. Just as God, with fire and trumpets and smoke and Ten Commandments written in stone, taught a nation of people to respect him, so now the influence of the Gospel is evident in every corner of this world.

Standing above all of history is the Divine Plan. The history of the world really is a story: the history of salvation. God is shaping the world, improving our religious sense, over millennia. He knows perfectly when to shout in fire from a mountaintop and when to come whispering. His intricate plan takes everything into account. Whether or not the world consciously accepts the Gospel, it is changing the world.