I recently turned 50. As a surprise, my wife collected reminiscences from family members. At their reading, my son pointed out that I would not have a right to complain about things he might do while away at college. As I reflect back, I am grateful that God has contained his wrath at a number of times in my life. I am relieved that my God is better at forgiveness than accounting.
I am clearly not alone. In today’s readings the chosen people just don’t get it. This leaves the Father upset in the first reading and Psalm. It leaves the Son upset in the Gospel.
In the reading from Exodus and the Psalm, Moses intercedes for an undeserving people. I enjoy the image of God becoming angry. I enjoy listening to Moses’ arguments to God asking for restraint. (You promised and You will look bad in front of the Egyptians.) It felt like being at home hearing one of my sons arguing for consideration rather than just recompense.
In the reading from John, Jesus makes the case in a series of arguments. The chosen people are focused on the details; they are unable to see what is in their midst.
I continue to be amazed at how often I don’t get it. When I examine these moments I realize how easy it is to miss what really matters. During my “spring break” I was working in Switzerland. One morning I was on the train on the way to the lab. I was typing on my laptop, answering email that could be uploaded when I reached my office. Eventually I happened to look up and noticed perhaps the most beautiful sunrise over that Alps that I had ever seen. I took the time and watched. I realized I was the only one in the train car watching. (This was a commuter train rather than a tourist train.) I began to wonder if I too should get back to work. I realized the impact of those around me. I also realized how easy it is to let the sacred go unnoticed. The Ipods, the laptops and the reading material had taken over. I have ridden this train a hundred times. It was somewhat disturbing to realize what gifts we choose to relegate to the routine, and what things we decide are worthy of our attention.
My prayer today is for the ability to be focused on what matters. I pray that I am able to see the forest through the trees. Finally I pray to better follow my Lord’s example. I pray to become better at forgiveness than accounting.
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