June 10, 2018
by Cindy Murphy McMahon
Creighton University's Office of Marketing and Communications
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 89

Genesis 3:9-15
Psalms 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
Mark 3:20-25

Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Praying in Times of Crisis

There is A LOT to chew on in this Sunday’s readings. Genesis 3 takes us all the way back to Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden and the mirror this holds up to our own willfulness; St. Paul in 2 Corinthians is full of encouragement for the early Christians and for us; and the Gospel according to Mark has some very difficult words and some very amusing ones, such as when Jesus’ relatives come looking for him because they think he is “out of his mind”! That is one of the most universal statements people make about their loved ones when they are frustrated by them, and I find it so gratifying that the Gospel writers were candid and honest enough to include it in what would eventually be deemed Holy Scripture.

But I want to concentrate on Paul’s very hopeful, inspiring message to us. This passage is frequently read at funerals, but I don’t think it only applies to the wasting away that happens in the final demise of our earthly bodies.

“Therefore, we are not discouraged;
rather, although our outer self is wasting away,
our inner self is being renewed day by day.
For this momentary light affliction
is producing for us an eternal weight of glory
beyond all comparison,
as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen;
for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.
For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent,
should be destroyed,
we have a building from God,
a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.”

We can apply these words right now, even if we are physically healthy, because our outer selves waste away through many different circumstances. We age, we make mistakes, we have regrets, we are insulted, we are forgotten – all ways in which our outer selves are diminished.

We should have this passage taped to our bathroom mirrors and read it every day. All of us can be discouraged when these physical, mental and emotional diminishments happen, but, Paul reminds us, we do not have to be. In fact, he says, we are NOT discouraged. And why not? Because we have a greater truth. We have an inner self and that inner self is being renewed day by day by our Lord and Savior, if we allow him to.

The afflictions and trials that befall us, and ultimately our final passing, are not the whole story. They do not defeat us. We have a hope in a reality that sees these diminishments as transitory, as less consequential. And, as the whole truth of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection points to and affirms, we have an eternal reality and dwelling place that, although it may be unseen, is more real than this physical world. And that is really something to rejoice about.

What if, whenever physical, mental and emotional problems afflicted us, we recalled these words of St. Paul and accepted the gift he is giving us through them? What if, instead of stewing and fretting, we stepped back and used an eternal perspective? Let’s really give this a try. We might just find a lot more peace and a lot less frustration.

Lord Jesus, help me to remember that it is my inner self you are most concerned about. It is my inner self that will live forever with you. Prompt me to not put so much effort and concern into my outer self, and help me to remember to look to your example, your guidance and your Holy Spirit when I begin to feel discouragement.

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