"The eyes of the Lord are upon the just, and His ears
listen to their prayers;
One of the common mistakes, current over the past few hundred years, is that God is like a clock maker who made the universe, wound it up, set it in motion -- and then lost interest and walked away from it. The more atheistic version of this false notion is that the universe somehow "just exists," and has existed forever without creation. An even more foolish version is that "chance caused the universe"; a mistake which confuses effects with causes.
We know, however, (and modern science seems to confirm) that the universe has to have had a creator. Matter, motion, and order don't "just exist"; they have to have a cause. Even without divine revelation we know this. There has to be a "First Mover"; there has to be One who brings organization out of chaos. We call that One by the name of "God."
Through divine revelation we know that God created all things from nothing (ex nihilo), that He keeps them in existence, that He has a divine plan, and exercises governance over all created things. We are, so to speak, mere thoughts in the Mind of God -- thoughts which would otherwise not exist -- which, indeed, would cease to exist, without so much as a flicker, if God took His mind off of us.
Viewed from the perspective of the Divine Mind, nothing is random; nothing happens by chance or accident. Rather all things are directed along a plan -- toward their proper ends -- so that all things work together according to their natures. This Divine Plan, and the Power which causes it to be followed, is called "Providence."
There is also what we might call a "special providence," in which God watches over mankind -- His special creatures, made with intellect and free will. This "special providence" is what gives us the graces required to know God's will, to conform to that will, and to put His will into action in our lives.
In some cases, "special providence" is a positive thing, as it is with the Sacraments -- motivating us through the love of God -- directly strengthening us with His power.
In other cases, "special providence" is negative -- manifesting itself through the punishhments which God sends upon us -- to warn us and to correct us -- to inspire a healthy fear of God.
A lot of people don't like to consider God's punishment as part of His providence -- but it is -- it is an indication that He still loves us; that He hasn't given up on us; that He hasn't just given us over to the power of the devil. Even a thermonuclear World War III would be preferable to having to pay for the sins of the world in the eternity of Hell.
But, of course, there is a great deal to be said for enjoying God's "special providence" by conforming our wills and loving Him, rather than requiring Him to break our wills through fear of punishment.
That is what both the Epistle and Gospel are directed at today. God wants us to feel His "special providence" by loving Him, and our neighbor for His sake. Even beyond justice, He asks charity and compassion for those around us. He wants us to be humble, and mild, and modest; truthful and without anger. In a sense, He is asking us to take part in His "special providence" -- asking each of us to look out for each other.
Today's Mass, then, leaves us with a beautiful lesson to be learned: First, that God loves us, and looks after us in all things. Even what sometimes appears to be misfortune and punishment is intended for our good. If our faith is strong, even our difficulties will remind us of God's love.
Second, we can join in God's providence by keeping His commandments, by conforming our will to His, and by putting His love into our lives and into all of our dealings with our brothers.
As St. Paul tells us in his Epistle to the Romans [viii: 28] -- "to them that love God, all things work together unto good."