25th Sunday of Ordinary Time

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.” That’s according to the prophet Isaiah. And how true it is.


We humans always want to be in control. We know what’s best for us, don’t we? Who knows us better than we know ourselves? It’s in our nature to think that way. But Isaiah was so right. God’s thoughts are above our thoughts. In fact they’re so much higher than our thoughts that we can’t even begin to comprehend the difference.


Over the last few months I’ve spent a lot of time talking to God, trying to discern what He wants me to do with my future. It’s a lot like when I was trying to discern my vocation. Should I become a deacon or not? Should I retire or not? These are big questions; much too big for my tiny human brain to figure out. I started to consider retirement over a year ago when I was in the hospital. Then last November, when I had my back surgery, I really started to think about it seriously. Over and over I asked God what He wanted me to do.

I thought about it and prayed about it for months before I finally made up my mind and went to see the Director of the Diaconate and asked him to start looking for someone to take my place.


I’m still not sure I made the right decision, but I put it in God’s hands. His thoughts are above my thoughts. It says so right here in the first reading. When ever we have a problem to solve or a decision to make the answer is to put it in God’s hands. We may not always agree with Him, but His way is always the best way. If you’re struggling with something, put it in His hands. You can always trust Him.


You’ll notice I’m focusing on the first reading much more than I usually do. That’s because I really don’t like the second reading or the Gospel all that much. Paul tells us he longs to depart from this life and be with Christ. Considering all his suffering, it’s not hard to understand his feelings. I’m sure we’ve all had similar thoughts at one time or another. But it’s not up to us to decide whether we live or die. Only God can make that call.

There’s an old Irish joke that goes like this:

Father Murphy walks into a pub in Donegal, and says to the first man he meets, “Do you want to go to heaven?”

The man said, “I do Father.”

The priest said, “Then stand over there against the wall.”

Then the priest asked the second man, “Do you want to got to heaven?”

“Certainly, Father,” was the man’s reply.

“Then stand over there against the wall,” said the priest.

Then Father Murphy walked up to O’Toole and said, “Do you want to go to heaven?”

O’Toole said, “No, I don’t Father.”

The priest said, “I don’t believe this. You mean to tell me that when you die you don’t want to go to heaven?”

O’Toole said, “Oh, when I die, yes. I thought you were getting a group together to go right now.”


At some point, ready or not, God’s going to call our names. Then it will be our time. And God knows us better than we know ourselves. Like Isaiah said, “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways.”


And, as Thomas Merton said,

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.





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