In my homily for the early morning Mass today, in response to the Gospel in which Jesus is accused of casting out demons in the name of Beelzebub, I asked those present why it is so common for us to attribute to God things that are not of him, and conversely, attribute to something other than God things that are good and holy.
We all have heard of someone who may be going through a truly tragic event such as a loss of a job or the death of a dear one and be very angry with God, accusing God of willing and creating the tragedy. In the intensity of their emotional upset, they blame God for something that is not of Him.
We also have heard in our lives how someone will attribute a truly good event not to God but to the presence of anything but God, even at times something evil. Glaring examples of this are the reported “good things” that come from evil dictators in the world, or more to home, the “good things” that come from that which is morally objectionable such as abortion, euthanasia, war, consumerism, etc.
God is the source of all that is good. He is not the source of evil. God does not will illness or injury, death or disease. These things exist as the result of sin and its effects.
In the movie, Pope John Paul I, there is a scene in which the young Fr. Luciani is speaking with a friend and fellow priest. World War II is raging in the country, and Luciani’s friend approaches him with the headlines in the newspaper. It is filled with reports of the atrocities of war. He confronts Luciani with the question, “Where is God?” Luciani responds, “Where is Man?” Luciani’s friend could not see God in the midst of the tragedy. Because of this, he abandoned the priesthood. Luciani saw God present even when confronted with evil. He refused to attribute to God what was not of him.
What blinds us to God’s presence, especially when we go through difficult times?
So often it seems to be the intensity of our emotional reactions. Our emotions cloud our vision, our ability to see clearly. Yet we must admit that another reason is that our vision is stained, soiled and marked by sin and its effects. When the eyes of faith and the spirit are obscured by the sin in our lives, we lose sight of God and attribute to him what is not of him, and attribute to evil what is from God.
This results in tremendous confusion and distress.
We hear in the Gospel according to Matthew, “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.” Yes, it is the person who has a clean heart, who has scoured clear the lenses of his spiritual eyes through conversion and repentance, who sees God clearly even in the midst of tragedy and pain. Such a person knows that God is present and that he wills only the good and that he provides the strength to endure the cross.
So all of this begs the question, “What do YOU attribute to God? Good or evil?”