Next weekend I will be preaching a retreat with the theme TRUSTING IN GOD.THIS SUNDAY’S PSALM [115 or 116] commences "I trusted, even when I said ’I am sorely afflicted’."...
It is sheer coincidence that
THIS WEEK’S OLD TESTAMENT READING [1 KINGS 17: 10 – 16] provides such a splendid illustration of the tribulations of life living which have to be climbed. The widow of Zarephath has endured a long drought and famine but now has “only a handful of meal and a little oil …. that we may eat … and die.” Elijah reminds her that, in the face of all her tribulations, she should “fear not … the jar of meal shall not be spent, and the pitcher of oil shall not fail, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.” The good widow perseveres “and she went and did as Elijah said.” She continued climbing the mountain.
TODAY’S PSALM [146 or 145] must be heard by all who may become disheartened or discouraged in theirmountain climbing endeavours. We are told that “the Lord gives bread to the hungry … sets prisoners free … opens the eyes of the blind … raises those bowed down … upholds the widow and orphan.”
It is also important to hear that Christ now appears
“in the presence of God on our behalf.” [see TODAY’S NEW TESTAMENT READING – HEBREWS 9: 24 – 28] This confirms the fact, often forgotten, that we are never alone in our struggles. If we continue with the image of climbing the extract from HEBREWS says something of enormous value.
There we read that –
“Christ … will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” Those who “waiteagerly” need to be seen (from last week) as the saints “who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
The Christ who is to come again will do so not
“to deal with sin but to save those …. eagerly waiting.” The immediate challenge is for us to fine-tune our focus. In other words is my discipleship and commitment more concerned about SIN or my eagerness in WAITING for the Lord? However, before answering the question, we must bear in the mind the closing words of TODAY’S GOSPEL [MARK 12: 41 – 44] ….. “but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living.“
A real part of the ‘baggage’ carried by so many Catholic Christians
(and a good number from other traditions) is a preoccupation with SIN! I have no doubt that the question I have been asked most often in the last 50+years begins with, ‘Father, is it a sin to \ not to ……?’ Why does a mature, thinking, and informed Catholic try to make ME THEIR conscience? In any case how effectively, in reality, will my answer actually influence whether the person ‘does’ or does not’? Hamlet, at least, had the guts to ask himself the question ….. ‘to be or not to be’?
I have never been asked whether I thought it a good idea to go on a Retreat where it was possible to spend some real quality time with the Lord, try to discern my priorities, recapture some basic Gospel values, evaluate my current performance, and perhaps make a real confession of my basic sinfulness. There I would be able to take time out for some valuable breathing!
The real question should (despite my sin and failures) be – ‘
am I really putting in everything at my disposal to grow and develop my Christian commitment
and earnest desire to GROW as a disciple of the Lord’?
Does my “whole living” have a genuine desire to grow in Gospel values? On the other hand, am I merely living on the peripheries of the Gospel and contributing from what is easy and comfortable for me? ….. “For they all contributed out of their abundance …” Do not reduce today’s Gospel to monetary levels!
Too often we become an obstacle to our own joyful acceptance of the Gospel and the living of our faith. Jesus is there (and here!) to save, transform, convert, and renew us from our sinfulness which must always be honestly confronted. However, our eagerness in waiting for him to act must always be dominant.