Column: Do we trust enough to depend on God?

by Father Mike Stubbs

Sometimes, people will refuse a favor from someone else because they do not want to feel obligated to the other person.

It may be that the person refusing the favor wants to preserve his or her indepen- dence. The person resists being tied down.

In a sense, that is what is going on in this Sunday’s first reading, Is 7: 10-14. We overhear a dialogue between God and Ahaz, the king of Judah at the time. God invites Ahaz to ask for a sign that God will help him in his role as king. God will defeat his enemies.

Surprisingly enough, Ahaz refuses the offer: “I will not ask! I will not tempt the Lord!”

Sometimes, a guest at dinner will decline a second helping of food out of politeness, so as not to appear greedy. We might suspect that Ahaz is refusing God’s offer for similar motives. It sounds innocent enough.

But the prophet Isaiah reacts violently to Ahaz’s refusal: “Is it not enough for ou to weary people, must you also weary my God?”

By his refusal, Ahaz is showing a lack of trust in God. If Ahaz were to accept a sign from God, it would mean that he was depending on God. That is exactly what the prophet Isaiah had encouraged Ahaz to do in the verse preceding our reading:

“Unless your faith is firm, you shall not be firm.”

In rejecting a sign from God, Ahaz is also rejecting God’s help. Ahaz does not want to depend upon God. Ahaz lacks faith in God.

Despite Ahaz’s objections, Isaiah promises Ahaz that he will receive a sign. A child will be born to continue the line of David. Presumably, this child would be an heir to the throne, to follow Ahaz as king.

Centuries later, Christian tradition would interpret this prophecy of Isaiah as referring to the child born of Mary, also of the line of David. In this case, the child’s birth would come as a sign to all of us of God’s love. It would be a sign of hope for the entire world, not just for Ahaz.

God offers us the sign, just as God did centuries ago to Ahaz. The question is: How will we receive the sign? Will we trust in God, and accept the sign in good faith? Or will we reject it, as did Ahaz?

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