Read Isaiah 48:17-19, Ps. 1:1-4,6, Matthew 11:16-19

“O that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your prosperity would have been like a river, and your success like the waves of the sea.” (Isaiah 48:18)

We often consider God’s commandments as difficult to keep because we do not believe there are any benefits of obeying them other than an attempt to please God or avoid hellfire. For many people, the commandments of God are simply infringements on their rights to live on their terms. Even some Christians believe that these commandments are God’s way of preventing us from “enjoying life”.

Consider the hours, months, and even years of painstaking sacrifice and practice to acquire certain basic life skills such as walking, speaking, driving, cooking, etc. Why did we keep going until we mastered these skills? Why is it that we want everything easy when it comes to God? Every successful athlete trains for hours daily to master their skills, but when obeying God’s commandments, we give up the moment we encounter even a slight difficulty.

Despite various challenges, the same person who refused to quit school to get a degree dares to say: “My body is not a log of wood”, after unsuccessful attempts at remaining faithful in marriage. What happened to saying, “practice makes perfect”? It seems we think that we are doing God a favour by obeying His commandments.

In today’s first reading, God says: “O that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your prosperity would have been like a river.” In other words, if only we would trust God enough to keep His commandments, we would find the desired prosperity. Jesus would later throw more light on this point when He said: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you” (Matthew 6:33).

Many Christians have a cosmetic approach to God’s commandments. We seem more concerned about looking good before others (not getting caught) than obeying God’s commandments. As such, we turn the other way when no one is looking. In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus compares his audience to the children in a marketplace. We are not different from Jesus’ audience.

John the Baptist came, neither eating nor drinking, and he was criticised. Jesus freely ate and drank, yet He was called names. It should never be about what people think. Do what is right. Seek to please God. Practice God’s commandments until you master them. God did not issue these commands to punish us. He gave them to us for our benefit.
Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, deepen my trust in keeping your commandments. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Friday of the 2nd week of Advent. Bible Study: Isaiah 48:17-19, Ps. 1:1-4,6, Matthew 11:16-19).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu