God is Not a Genie…
You have read about the wonderful tale of Aladdin and the Magic Lamp where the genie plays a central role, that is, the servant who appears whenever someone rubs the lamp and fulfills that person’s every wish.
A lot of us still tend to imagine God more or less like a benevolent genie whose main function is to solve our problems, eliminate obstacles, remove suffering or prevent disasters from happening.
The type of prayers we frequently make demonstrates this human tendency. We resort to novena prayers or devotions that would appear to guarantee us from most forms of unwanted events happening in our lives. Our prayers revolve heavily on asking or petitioning God for favors, material or otherwise. We have succumb to a popular religiosity that subscribes to the belief that God would intervene in our lives if only we keep our promise to do nine consecutive days/nights of praying, as dictated in a prayer pamphlet, similar to the idea contained in chain letters.
Today’s gospel reading should help us dispel once and for all that this fantasy about God— for it is only that, a fantasy. God’s involvement in our lives is quite different from that of a genie of the classic tale of the Arabian Nights.
In our gospel passage today, we hear the words of Jesus in what is known as the Mission Discourse in all honesty and bluntness: “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul…” clearly predicting that some of his followers will be killed or severely persecuted in the course of history. And he also adds that not a single sparrow falls to the ground without God being aware of it. But the sparrow falls… He also adds that even the hairs of our head are all counted. But as we all realize, receding hairline happens. In others words, God does not act like a genie, preventing bad things from happening. This straight-forward statement from Jesus should dispel once and for all this genie-myth. God is not a magical genie and there is no magic lamp capable of conjuring Him.
God does not magically remove suffering from our lives. But He gives us strength to bear it and to profit immensely from it. He did not protect His own Son from suffering, but through suffering He made Him strong enough to save the world.