A Cycle – 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time 20
Mt. 10:31 – 42
Due to the pandemic most of us are sheltering in place. As many of our former daily routines are not happening, we have a lot of time to reflect on all that is happening to us and within society. One of the things I reflect on weekly are the readings for the coming Sunday and make them the center of my daily prayer. I have over the past week had other reflections because I was contacted by a person who came to me for spiritual direction for years. The conversations I had with that person caused me to reflect on the years we were together and how each of us grew spiritually. Me because providing spiritual direction is a challenge to my own spiritual life and theirs because their quest is fueled by a desire that remind of the struggle with letting go of what is safe.
We need to understand how our individual spiritual journeys begins with a desire to satisfy our own questions of faith. Because we are not able to fully understand where God is leading us, we often rely on the law to keep us in right standing with God. The life we are called to live is one where we must trust God’s plan and take a step into the unknown fully dependent on God and our desire to be embraced by Him. That will never be accomplished until we allow the law of God to be written on our hearts rather than on tablets of stone.
Having a desire for more needs to be awakened in us before we can grow spiritually. I can attest to that fact by my own journey to discover the depth of God’s love which was never a goal of mine as I grew to manhood. Each of us often fail to understand how we dabble around the edges of faith without ever responding to the invitation of Christ to follow him. But the dabbling around the edges was the opening God needed to get through to plant that seed of desire in all our hearts. There is a message for us in today’s readings telling us to keep putting ourselves in the presence of God because one day something will cause us to take a deeper more meaningful step to discipleship.
We see that in the first reading today with the woman of influence. She takes a step of faith by inviting Elisha to dine with her and her husband. Now this would be like inviting Fr. Walt to dinner. You know, with him present, it will be an evening of laughter and easy conversation. He will not bring up anything spiritual unless you bring up something on your mind. Evan then he will most likely encourage you to come see him tomorrow in his office. That woman’s invitation to Elisha was an opening to something greater to happen in the future.
It always begins with the desire for more, to seek to satisfy that intuitive knowing that there is more than what we are experiencing. Admitting we are missing out on the promise of joy, peace, abundance and total certainty we are forgiven begin comes as we desire to grow spiritually not theologically, If you think about it, the theological statements by Jesus were never understood by them. Yet they knew he had what they longed for.
You may not believe this, but God loves to challenge us. He loves to put us into situations where we must make a choice to trust him. It is one thing to open the doors to our hearts to Jesus and another to just read that passage where Jesus tells us if we open the door he will come in and dine with us (Rev. 3:20). This is the essence of spiritual direction; it begins with a conversation without unveiling our deepest longing. Eventually, we begin to allow our desire for more to move us to open ourselves to receive God’s grace. God’s grace is always there for us and often it comes with a challenge that challenges us to trust God.
The challenge for us today is to answer a basic question. Do we really love God and what are we seeking because of what we believe and profess? Are we seeking a word that challenges us to do whatever necessary to follow him? Or are we seeking a comfortable faith that lulls us into believing we are following his will? The truth is it is not us who deceives ourselves but a force seeking to keep us from knowing Christ and following him. That force uses the age old tactic of lying to us into believing we are following God’s will by following the law. Is
The gospel challenges us to seek more than just a reward for being obedient. He challenges us to receive all the blessings of being a disciple by trusting in God. Pick up your cross and follow me is to take a step into the unknown. It is walking on water faith. It is proclaiming Jesus is Lord to unbelievers. It is displaying symbols of your faith even if your employer says you cannot. It is becoming the person God created you to be and using the gifts God embedded within you to be his witness. What is your response?
Peter’s first response to Jesus was to tell him to depart from him because he was sinful. Each of us have this battle within ourselves; we want what God offers us, but we do not believe we are worthy of it. The thing we must understand is God acts out of his on goodness not because we are good. God acts out of his desire for intimacy while we are afraid of what we believe will happen if we surrender to God. Peter overcame his image of himself to follow Jesus because he trusted in the promise to become something he was not.
A call to follow Jesus is made to each of us daily. We can only hear it when our desire becomes strong enough to show us how we need to remove the barriers separating our inner self from the action of God’s grace. It is not enough to just show up, we are called to die to self.