Reflection for Wednesday, November 24, 1999: 34th week in Ordinary Time.

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Kline, Steve
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"... God whose hand is your life breath and the whole course of your life..." Daniel 5-23||"... not a hair on your head will be destroyed ... " Luke 21-18|In my relationship with Jesus I am confronted repeatedly with this question: Do you trust completely that your life is in the care of God, even when it seems that you are threatened?|My daughters have a videotape that includes a song titled "God Is Bigger Than the Bogeyman." It is about a child who comforts herself with the realization that God will take care of her while she sleeps at night. For a time during the summer, my three girls and their friends played and sang this song over and over and over. I heard it so often that I even began to get the message.|A similar message is buried in today's readings. Today, again, I must answer that question about trust in God.|In my imagination, the passage from Daniel has better special effects than any "Star Wars" movie: A huge party interrupted when Belshazzar sees that awful hand, writing on the wall. Daniel is dragged before a quaking, frightened authority. A frightened authority often is an angry authority, because anger usually covers fear or shame. An angry authority seems threatening. But Daniel refuses to soften a truth that might stir even more anger in Belshazzar. Daniel refuses to duck for the cover of a sycophantic response. The hand of God terrifies Belshazzar because he does not understand. Daniel does understand, and he dwells peacefully in the hand of God.|Daniel does not seem to be aggressive or even very accusatory in his response. He calmly replies to Belshazzar's request and lets God take care of the rest. It is God (not Daniel or Belshazzar) who holds all the cards.|I think long and hard about this story. Do I attempt to shade or evade an unpleasant truth when I fear that speaking up will make some blustery authority figure angry? Of course I have done that. I'm only human.|But in doing that I misplace my trust. I think that something I do, or something I don't do, will protect me. Then I think: "Come on, Kline! Don't you get it? Trust in God, in principle, and in nothing else!"|Jesus tells me in the reading from Luke that all of my fears are unwarranted. He speaks to me powerfully the same comforting words that He offered to His followers who would face terrible oppression: Not a hair on your head will be destroyed. Sometimes I wonder if ever I will trust in that completely. Sometimes I wonder if ever I will learn that no amount of fear or fear-based activity adds in the slightest to my security. Jesus is telling me that yes, it will be hard. Yes, people will betray and disappoint me. Yes, things of this world will fail me.|And constantly fearing the loss of things or of comfort ultimately will separate me from God.|So what draws me closer to God?|Simple, child-like trust. Not a hair on my head will be destroyed.|God is bigger than the bogeyman.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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