In the last week we have added a member to our household. She is about 11 weeks old and her name is Maggie. Maggie is an English Springer Spaniel. She is beautiful and full of fun but here is the problem: Maggie thinks like a dog not like a human. There is really nothing wrong with her natural inclinations — that is, if she was going to be living primarily with other dogs, but her life will mean having more time with people rather than other dogs. So we are learning how to communicate with each other. She has taught us how recognize when she has to go out, when she is tired, or when she is hungry. We are teaching her how to recognize when we want her to pay attention to us, and the rules for living in our house. We have not been her only teachers — our cat Mattea has also lent a hand by helping her to understand that furry objects that hiss and growl often come with sharp claws that make noses sting.
As I was watching Linda this morning doing some training with Maggie, it struck me that this is what our readings are telling us this weekend: that we are human and that we do not naturally think or understand the ways of God. It appears that this was the case even before the fall from our true human nature. From the very beginning, God was instructing Adam and Eve how to conduct themselves so we could have a good relationship with each other and with Him. God is a very patient, caring teacher, but also a detail-oriented teacher.
The readings from Isaiah offer words of encouragement as they tell us to seek the Lord while he may be found, to learn His ways and to walk away from those things that are destructive, thus robbing us of the fullness of life.
Saint Paul in our second reading describes how the more he began to understand the ways of God, he realized the purpose of our life affords us an opportunity to serve God and teach others about God’s goodness. And even death will not end our lives, because though actions of Jesus and our faithfulness to God’s ways, our souls will finally find their place of rest in our eternal home.
It is to that end — for the salvation of souls — that the Gospel reminds us that God wants absolutely no soul to be lost to darkness or deprived of His friendship. Like the laborers who were called earlier in the day, God would like us to hear and accept his invitation early on so that we can experience the gift of his closeness as we live out our days here on earth. God also understands that there are conditions and things that injure some souls. These wounds may hinder, block, or prevent a person from being able to receive him. In very severe cases like this it may only be in the final hours of life that the soul is prepared and ready to receive His love. God still wants us, even when do not want Him and actively reject Him.
You are here today because you have heard that call and have accepted Gods invitation to friendship. We are all familiar with the tools that God has provided us so that we can learn about his ways. Despite our many ways of communicating with each other, there is still a lot of misunderstanding, confusion, and a complete lack of awareness that such tools exist. Our understanding, our friendship, our desire to seek to understand and to see each other are like those little bits of cheese we have been offering to Maggie. These are actions open doors to communication, to relationship, and encourage the soul to seek the ways of God.