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Does God Need Our Help?: A Reflection On The Sunday Gospel By Fr. Isidore Clarke, O.P.

Does God Need Our Help?: A Reflection On The Sunday Gospel                          By Fr. Isidore Clarke, O.P.

​Greetings from Fr. Isidore Clarke on the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time.Last week I reflected on the responsorial psalm, "Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will."

Today Gospel, (Matt. 4. 12-23), prompts me to develop this theme, starting with the question, 'Does God need our help?'Strictly speaking, the answer must be, 'No. Of course He doesn't.'He's all-powerful and completely self-sufficient.He doesn't need anybody or anything to enable Him to achieve His purpose.

And yet, and yet, the creator of heaven and earth has chosen to become dependent upon us, His creatures. And this, in His most important work of saving us from the power of evil.St. Augustine expressed this very neatly when he wrote, 'God who created you without your help does not save you without your cooperation.'That means that He offers us the insight, the strength to do what is right and avoid what is wrong.With His help, we can make the right decisions and carry them out.The Truth, which is Jesus Himself, does, indeed, set us free.But if we fail to seek His assistance and use it, it's our own fault if we fall.

There's a well-known story about a man trying to escape a flood by climbing a tree.He begged God to come and rescue him.When a boat came he turned it away, saying God would rescue him. The same happened when a helicopter came to his aid. When the water rose and drowned him he complained that God had ignored his plea for help.But God replied that He had sent both a boat and a helicopter, but the man had refused them.

This well-known story makes two points.Firstly, that often God answers our prayers indirectly through the assistance we give each other.Secondly, each of us is called to be God's instruments or agents carrying out his will. I've experienced this through the professional medical skill and human kindness, recently shown me during my stay in hospital. The staff were certainly co-operating with Christ, the Good Physician. But if we sit back and leave everything to God, His work may not be done.

In today's Gospel we see Jesus starting to choose some of the apostles, who would continue His work after He'd ascended to heaven.If you've ever served on a selection panel you would think His choice rather bizarre. Fishermen wouldn't seem to be the best-qualified people to be teachers or preachers.An educated Pharisee like Saul or Nicodemus would seem to be more suitable.But Jesus must have seen qualities in those He did choose, which we may fail to appreciate.And God is in the habit of choosing what is weak and despised to confound those who pride themselves on their power and wisdom.Judging by the people Jesus chose to continue His work they should have been exterminated before they'd hardly started.

But the Spirit of God was with them, strengthening them and giving them an unexpected courage, wisdom and eloquence.As a result, against all the odds, Christ's followers have increased and spread throughout the world.

If today's Gospel teaches us about Jesus needing us to help Him in spreading the Good News, we need Him to enable to receive it and continue His work.Quite simply, without God we can do nothing, without Him we are nothing.But with God we can achieve the seemingly impossible.It's reassuring to know that when God calls us to do something He owes it to Himself and to us to enable us to do His will.

He can find work for each one of us, no matter what our age, strength, or intelligence.None of us should think himself useless or worthless.

Jesus needs each one of us to act in His name and with His power.But when Jesus calls us we need the generosity of spirit and courage to say 'yes' –and mean it.

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