When I was in grade school, I had a very patient nun as a teacher, but I was a daydreamer. While she was teaching, I was quite likely to be lost in a book or staring out a window, not really hearing anything she said. At those moments, she would clap her hands in exasperation and say, "Wake up, Maureen!" Even then, I knew that what she really wanted to do was simply shake me awake from my lack of attention and my lack of awareness.
It's the same image I get from today's gospel. A very human and practical Jesus points out the obvious to us: black clouds in the sky mean rain. Southern winds mean the weather will turn hot. But I get the feeling he wants to shake us awake saying, "Wake up! Can't you see who is standing right in front of you speaking to you? It's me! I have a message of love and freedom and no one is listening!"
Sometimes we are simply oblivious to the miracle of Jesus being in our lives, standing right in front of us. We are too busy and distracted to see it. He wants to grab our attention away from so many things that distract us and he wants to tell us he loves us.
"You see me in the obvious places, like in Church," he might be saying to us. But during the rest of the week? He wants to strip away the fears that distract us, heal our anger and our grudges. Too often we use our energy and focus to remind ourselves of the people we resent and those who have hurt us or the pain we carry from our earlier lives. What Jesus offers us is a healing, if only we can believe how much we are loved by him.
He wants us to be healed because he wants to send us out into this world to be his representative right now to those who need healing and love. But we can't be free enough to be sent until we are no longer burdened with the distractions of wishing we had something different in our lives or of wanting what someone else has. He wants to set our hearts on fire with his love and to carry that to each other. But we aren't able to listen to what he is asking us if we refuse to be healed.
Today's gospel is clear - we are directed to forgive each other and move on with our lives. If we are caught in the middle of a disagreement, Jesus says to stop and settle it right there. It doesn't matter who is right or wrong - just settle it. Get that dissension out of the way so we will be able to be sent by him to serve.
Why are we so reluctant? What will it cost us to forgive? What are we willing to do to put down the grudges we hold, the angers and fears and resentments, and ask Jesus for forgiveness for our stubbornness? Only in that place of healing can we see what we have been missing all along - Jesus standing in front of us, holding our face in his hands, telling us how much he loves and needs us.
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