An Encouraging Word – A bum rap?

Father J. Ronald Knott
Father J. Ronald Knott

I have come so that you may have life and have it to the full. John 10:10

After 46 years of priesthood. I can say with a bit of confidence that God has, and continues to get, a bum rap. He has gotten a bum rap most often from the very ones who act as his ambassadors — ambassadors sent to present him to a world with a desperate need to feel the love of God.

Not only is God getting a bum rap, but so is religion itself. Some of the very ones who are anointed to announce God’s unconditional love are spewing hate and calling it religion. The April 18 issue of The New Yorker had a cartoon of God looking down at the earth with an angel at his side. The caption read, “I’m starting to prefer the ones who don’t believe in me.”

I refuse to quit, drop out and turn it over to the religious hate-mongers. Religion today is in trouble, not so much because of the power of its enemies, but because so many of its adherents have surrendered. When it comes to religion it has always been easier to take cheap shots from the sidelines than get in the ring and do battle.

Instead of presenting a God who has created us in his own image and likeness, many of us in the preaching business have created a God in our own image and likeness — stingy, vindictive, grudge-holding and judgmental. Because I suspect that Pope Francis, as popular as he is, is getting more than his share of raking by some of the same religious types. I expect it to increase in intensity.

I am convinced that God, simply out of pure love, created each one of us to be all that we can be. I believe he still looks at us and finds us, underneath it all, very good.
Yes, I believe with all my heart that God wants us to have a full life, but it’s neither forced on us nor is it magic.

It’s really a partnership to which we need to say “yes.”

W.H. Murray, the Scottish mountaineer and writer, summarizes my experience best in this regard when he said, “The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.”

Today we hear a lot about suicide — the taking of one’s own life. However, there is another kind of suicide that is growing even faster. I call it “spiritual suicide,” the result of constantly saying “no” to the many God-given opportunities to grow and change so that we can claim that full and happy life that God wants for us! “Spiritual suicide” is a type of terminal laziness, the result of a whole series of bad choices and then blaming God and “circumstances” for our unhappy lives.

Father J. Ronald Knott


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