The two readings today present the tension of discipleship, the comfort and the challenge we receive from God’s word. In the first reading, Paul’s prayer is a mystical gong, reverberating the reminder of the richness of infinite wisdom and power available in our God. I hear the second as a rallying cry: “If this is the wealth of your heritage, you better shake off your hesitations and insecurities and be bold and clear in your words and work for God!”
The first reading was a favorite of mine when I led youth retreats years ago. Now I need to print it on a card to have by my children’s bedside, by my prayer chair and in my pocket for blessing students for service trips of all kinds. I personally need it much these days. In my youth I was confident and more consistently in touch with God’s glory and power and majesty. I was bolder, more radical in my actions and fundamental life choices; clear about what I was living for, giving my life for. AND I gave a lot of time to prayer. Now I look at my life. I am daily aware of the limits of my power and the immensity of the mission in the face of complex personal and systemic evils. In the name of seeking opportunity and well being for my three children, I have lowered my resistance to the seduction of consumer culture. (Would not a more radical witness of life have been better for their souls?) AND I do not pray enough, do not pause often enough in all the work and joy of daily life to draw deeply from my glorious heritage.
I will face this at Judgement Day, Luke writes in today’s gospel. The Jerome Biblical Commentary says the so-called “unforgivable sin” of “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit” has to do with “a stubborn refusal to entertain the Christian message.” I have consistently wrestled with it since my youth, BUT engaging it deeply, letting my every step be influenced by it, living it in the maturity of marriage, motherhood, management and midlife…well…it has proved more difficult than I imagined.
I hear the readings today telling me to get used to the tensions I wish would just go away. At each stage of life, I have to re-confront how high the stakes are in this life of discipleship. It sure helps knowing I am not alone in trying to live the tension and live the trust.
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