“As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” Elisha replied.
Today I noticed a fire call box on a street corner. I have not seen or at least not noticed a call box in many years. This got me thinking about how communication has changed during my lifetime. When I was growing up my family had a single phone line which was wired into the house. Long distance calls were made rarely (and only during low rate periods). Evenings we watched the news on black and white television with my father and then sat down in the dining room as a family.
How does this fit with today’s readings and my faith journey? The feature of today’s readings that struck me was faith’s need for perseverance. In the first reading Elijah and Elisha make the journey to Elisha’s commissioning. In the psalm, justice is promised, but in due time. In the Gospel, the importance of long term rewards over immediate credit is made clear.
I see how human interaction has changed just in the past decades. Hundreds of channels of television are available on cable and satellite. Mail comes on the internet. My phone calls are transmitted over the same network. Communication to Western Europe is billed at the same rate as a local call. Even as I write this I hear students talking on their cell phones and watching streaming video on their laptops.
I am not surprised that as a member of this society the demands of faith may seem foreign. We are conditioned to expect that we can get what we want when we want it. It is difficult to stay focused in an environment where the feedback is limited. Prayer does not come with a confirmation message.
How do we embrace the future while not abandoning the insights of the past? My faith calls me to a willingness to invest time. Grace calms the fears brought on by my environment. The challenges of modernism have been with us for hundreds of years. Today is the feast of Aloysius Gonzaga. Saint Aloysius lived at the dawn of the modern world. He lived in a Europe surrounded by profound societal and religious change. He challenged those around him, rather than yielding to the path of least resistance. As a young man, he entered the Society of Jesus. In living his career of service, he ministered to plague victims, succumbing to the disease at an age of 23. I can imagine some people today classifying this as the unfortunate waste of a talented individual’s life. (When my son talks about service opportunities I worry about what he may be getting into. I become concerned when I notice my perceived desires are inconsistent with my faith.) The challenges of spiritual development and prayer often run counter to our culture of immediate feedback. I need to invest the time to discover and confirm what is in my heart.
Today I pray for the ability to see beyond the short term. I pray for a better sense of my true desires. I pray for patience. I pray for the ability to identify grace.
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