Is your heart inclined to serve God?
When Ezekiel is called to prophesy to the first of the Israelites in exile in Babylon, they aren’t very inclined to listen, for they have moved far away from the covenant God established with them. And they want to believe this distance is God’s doing: The Lord’s way is not fair!, they cry. But in fact, as Ezekiel is clear to note, God’s way affirms humankind’s free will, for it is man who chooses either to turn away from virtue or to do what is right and just. It is the very nature of human beings to have the capacity to choose, the capacity to make mistakes, even to act from a place of self-interest. The Israelites in exile need to realize that they are responsible for their own disconnectedness – and to remedy the disconnect, they must freely choose to incline their heart to serve God. They need to pray Psalm 25: Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths, trusting that the Lord will guide them, open to that guidance, willing to close the distance between them and God.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus makes a similar point to the chief priests and elders of the people, telling them a story of a man who had two sons. When asked to work in his father’s vineyard, the first son refuses, yet in the end does go to work, while the second son says he will go, but in the end does not. Clearly, the first is the one who did his father’s will, as the priests and elders themselves recognize – it is he who is inclined to act from the heart.
If we are inclined to serve God, then we must choose accordingly; we must act from the heart, rather than from a place of self-centeredness. We must act, that is, united in heart, joined to the will of God. It is this union of heart that Paul counsels in his letter to the Philippians – a union that espouses humility, for a heart that is humble is by definition inclined to the will of God. It is precisely the same attitude that is also in Christ, driven by the love that Christ came to reveal in each one of us… if only we are so inclined.
This post is based on Fr. Pat’s Scripture class.
Image source: Wordle