Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 8, 2019

We’ve all had those “moments” - when we’ve been so sure about something, so confident that we are right but we find out we don’t have a clue.  An unpredictable event, a crisis, a blessing, when we come to the realization that as much as we think we have it figured-out, as sure as we are about our “truths” of life, and it all crumbles in a moment.   

One of the problems having all the answers, those once and for all conclusions of life, of course, is that once we do, we cut God out of the equation.   It is as if God has spoken to us and we are telling God that we don’t need him to speak any more.  Once we’ve discovered our truth about something—anything—we pretty much let go of any need or desire or possibility that there might be another way of looking at this, or that perhaps this is not at all what God wanted us to know (or certainly not the whole of what we need to know).   Or that we might just be plain, wrong. 

Even Solomon, in all his wisdom, knew what he didn’t know.  Who can really know the counsel of God (he wrote) or conceive what God intends?  Scarce do we grasp the things of earth, let alone things of heaven. 

When we can be wise enough, like Solomon, to admit that we don’t know for sure, or that at least there might be more to learn; when we come to that moment where we can’t be absolutely certain or that some of the time we just don’t “get it” - the more we can then believe and trust that God is still at work in our lives.  The more we allow ourselves a certain degree of uncertainty - the more we can be certain about God. 

It’s what Jesus was saying in his typical dramatic fashion:  It was not that he hated family or that possessions were bad in and of themselves.  It’s not that Jesus wants us to suffer.  What he wanted was for us to see a bigger picture of love and family and responsibility, a world where possessions didn’t matter, a world where suffering was never the last word.  What he wanted was that we find the kingdom of God.

It came to Paul, again, as it had in the past, as an old man in jail. It was there that he realized something new about the love of Christ.  He was operating in a world that accepted the truth that slaves were slaves; they were not the same as free men and women.  No one challenged that in his world; it was how their world operated.  But then he meets Onesimus, a slave of his friend Philemon, and he realized that slavery and the Kingdom of God could not co-exist.    

It’s scary stuff, isn’t it?!  It’s scary to think that some of the things that we’ve held on to as absolutes in our lives might not be all that absolute at all, that God may have another truth for us to yet discover and embrace.  It’s unnerving to think that what we have come to assume was essential to our happiness and peace, wasn’t at all. 

Every age, ever person, every community must come to that realization.  If we discover that some of our truths of life seem to be the same as others have discovered, that will be reassuring.  If the faith of our ancestors seems to make sense today, too, it will give us a whole lot of security in the midst of an ever-changing world.  But sometimes, when it all crumbles, we just have to trust that God will get us where God want us to be.  

And thus will the paths of those on earth will be made straight.

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