Reign over us. 

Saint Pius X, Pope (Memorial)

The parable in our first reading (Judges 9:8) today might seem hard to decode, but like Aesop’s fables, it contains a universal lesson about human beings and their ways.   In this case, the people of Israel who want a king are represented by trees.   The “buckthorn” who agrees to be their king is a man named Abimelech, who is as unfit to rule as a buckthorn is to provide shade from the sun.   Yet the people would rather take their chances with Abimelech than stay close to God and find out his plan.

If you look closely, these foolish trees share something in common with the critical workers from Jesus’ parable—the ones who don’t like the generosity of the man who hired them.   They too think they know better.   The problem in both cases is that mistrust is really what “reigns.”

We can all fall into this “I know best” mentality at times.   A higher-up’s decision at work makes us roll our eyes.   In a conversation with our spouse or children, we push for our own plans with urgency, not pausing to think about other people’s ideas, let alone thank them.   We can even do this in our relationship with God when we approach prayer by saying, “Please do this” or “Make this outcome happen.”   While it’s not wrong to make our desires known to God, it might be good to do a “trust check” every once in a while.   It could look something like this:

What is at the heart of my prayer?   Do I believe in God’s perfect love and perfect judgment?   Am I open to his will, even if it means letting things go on as they are for a bit longer?   Do I believe that God is working, even now?

So many situations you face are not God’s will;   they are consequences of sin, sickness, and people’s bad judgment.   Yet God is with you in a special way when you trust in him.   When you believe that he has authority over your circumstances, he reigns as king—and you become better able to participate in his plan.   So instead of trying to tell God what to do, try asking him to show you what he is doing.   Let him show you how to be part of it.   Let him reign.

“Jesus, show me how to participate in your plan.”

Psalm 21:2-7
Matthew 20:1-16

Word Among Us