Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 

July 7, 2019

The most basic level of geometry (and common sense, for that matter) tells us that that shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  But I don't think that little tidbit ever got wired into our DNA, or perhaps, more accurately, into our spiritual DNA.  

Somehow, when it comes to our spiritual journeys, we are wanderers.  And I'm not just talking about our ancestors of faith wandering through the desert, I'm talking about the spiritual wanderings of our own hearts and lives.  We're all over the place!  

Sometimes right on track, sometimes just getting lost.  Sometimes heads-down forward, sometimes heads-up dreaming. Sometimes setting a goal and sometimes not having a clue what we're doing.  That's just the way it is; that's just the way we are. It has always been; it will, most likely, always be that way until that day we see God face-to-face.

We screw up.  All of us. We think we're on the right path and we're not; we're sure we are making the right decision and it turns out, we didn't; emotions cloud our judgement and greed (or simple survival) leads us off the righteous path.  

Just like God's family in ancient Jerusalem.  They messed up a perfect opportunity and found themselves exiled, turned away from their beloved city.  They were lost and they lost it all. Yet, it was to them that Isaiah voices one of the most comforting, enticing and welcoming invitations that could possibly be voiced to the people of Israel.  Their faith journey was one of faithfulness and rejection, sometimes steadfast and other times fickle, far from a straight line, yet God never tired of forgiving them of their unfaithfulness, healing their self-inflicted wounds, and, yes, welcoming them back home.

This kind of wandering is different from other wanderings, like when we try to avoid the crosses we are called to bear.  Life dishes out its own challenges; necessary sacrifices are constantly before us; we cannot avoid the cross. Although we do try, don't we.  We'll wander miles out of the way to avoid the crosses of life. But St. Paul, in the ending of his letter the the Galatians, boasts of the cross.  This path to God, he told the church, would not be a smooth and level road; it would involve sacrifice, the cross. Only through that pathway would the faithful find salvation.  St. Paul reminds us that it is though those crosses that we bear that we find the most direct path to God. In our willingness to sacrifice for something greater, or far for others far more fragile than ourselves, we find God.  

Perhaps it was in anticipation of that inevitable wandering path that Jesus sent out the disciples two-by-two, knowing full well that it would not be an easy nor direct path, that they would need each other.  They would have to go forward and retreat, often, as they proclaimed the Kingdom of God. There would be successes and failures, times of great accomplishment and times of falling flat on our face. But also remember that he promised us: he would be with us until the end of time.    

I don't know about you, but I take great comfort in knowing all of that.  We're going to screw it up once in a while, find ourselves far off any direct path to God.  And that the path will, inevitably, necessarily involve sacrifice. And life will not be filled only with successes and wins, but failures and losses, as well.  And yet, thought it all, God doesn't forget us, does not abandon us, is never separated from us. In our wandering, meandering, serendipitous path to the Kingdom, God is always with us.  And that, my friends, is exactly why we can say to the world: the Kingdom of God is at hand.

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