Reflection on the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
In her book “So Far From Home” published in 2012, Margaret Wheatley
said that the human race was on a roller coaster traveling at full speed
without anyone knowing how to apply the brakes. COVID-19 has applied the
brakes — efficiently and effectively. Here we sit, stunned and bewildered.
For those who are spiritually awake, also energized and hopeful!
Richard Rohr has a new book called “The Wisdom Pattern:
Order/Disorder/Reorder.” He reminds us that our journey through time is
always cyclic and not linear. He says in effect that we are now in the disorder stage and are adrift in a sea of egotistical and individualistic meanderings — having lost contact with some very crucial points on our moral compass. Democrats and Republicans have both had their say about where we are and what we need to do. Perhaps it would be a good time for me to pause and ponder my situation in the light of today’s readings.
Our readings today offer some really good snapshots of ways I can
waste time and be unhappy. In the first reading, Jeremiah is caught up in
resentment and complains and whines that God is a duper and a cheater. He apparently had an expectation of how things were supposed to turn out, and it didn’t go right. He eventually comes to acceptance and reconnection with God and God’s will. It’s good and necessary to vent. The important thing is to do it and know I’m doing it and then move on and not linger in that negative space so detrimental to mental and emotional well-being.
The Gospel shows me another way I can waste time, burn out and
cause chaos and that is to try to be in control by insisting that it’s my way or
the highway! When Jesus rolls out the plan for what can be expected when
they get to Jerusalem, Peter says, “God forbid that you even dream of
anything so preposterous. That’s really dumb!” Jesus said, “Get behind me”
instead of “get out” so Peter continued to try to listen and understand, but
right up to his very last performance he still didn’t have his act together.
Jesus took him back with a threefold assurance that everything was OK.
Now that he has Peter’s attention, Jesus spells out the lesson again in
detail from the top. Whoever wishes to follow me must practice self- denial, take up the cross and follow me. Who me? How? Surely I can find an
easier, softer way. Thank God for the wisdom pattern, which tells me I am
called to make progress, not be perfect. In other words, what matters is that I suit up and show up for life. What matters is that I stay alive, involved
and invested and do whatever I can do to join with others in our efforts to
make a difference and do it with passion. Clarissa Pinkola Estes encourages
us to remember always that “we are the ones we have been waiting for.” To
keep it simple, I try to keep in mind the words of a friend of mine in
Alcoholics Anonymous who says repeatedly, “Love is the answer. What’s
Sister Emmanuel Tonne used to say that the mark of an educated
person is that they vibrate in the presence of quality. Might it also be said
that the mark of a person who is spiritually awake is that they vibrate in the
presence of truth. One Friday afternoon when we were both exhausted,
Frances Rattermann told me that she was headed home to rock and suck her thumb. That’s sort of the way I’ve always looked at Psalm 63, which is one of my favorites — a place to rest, recharge, rock and suck my thumb and get my head and heart adjusted. Be still and know that I am God.
I would like to close with some words of Thomas Merton. This is the
way he summed up his own experience of the journey called life: “My Lord
God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I
cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and
the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am
actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact
please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope
that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do
this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the
shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will
never leave me to face my perils alone.”