A young priest here on campus shared with me recently the love of God that surrounded him while attending an organ recital in our local cathedral. He described the vibrations, the power, the sweetness and variety of the music. While I listened he seemed to be back there experiencing God’s love for him through the art, majesty and the music of this large church building.
I told him that I could hardly imagine it. He agreed that it was almost beyond imagining. In his reverie, he missed that I meant my comment differently. Organ music seems confusing and not something one can dance to.
There is an old Latin saying, De gustibus, non disputandum. “About taste there is no arguing.” I was not arguing with the fellow; he has his tastes and maybe I don’t have any at all.
Jesus prayed that His joy may be complete in us. This week as we move toward the celebration of the Eucharist, we might pray with those human experiences which delight us, grace us, and bring us to our senses concerning all the ways God can get into our hearts and souls. God knows that we have our ways of receiving, delighting and tasting. They differ and God comes to us according to how we need to be come-to. So if it is organ music, God bless you there, if not, God will bless you through your ways.
The First Reading has to do with the role of the prophet. The verses before the ones we hear in today’s liturgy speak of how sentries are posted on the outskirts of an area when invaders are coming. They are to blow the warning-horn when the enemy approaches. If they do, but some refuse to respond, their deaths are their responsibility. If the sentry does not alert the citizens, then their deaths are the watchman’s responsibility. Ezekiel is warned about his own response to the calls of God to call Israel back to God.
What we hear is an instruction of just how Ezekiel is to speak to the wicked of the nation. As with the “watchman” who does not speak, Ezekiel, if he does not speak, will die and the death of the wicked will be also his responsibility. Ezekiel understands and is encouraged more than a little bit. In the verses immediately following our Reading, Ezekiel hears the hard words from God which he then speaks to Israel, calling them back to the Lord’s Ways.
Today’s Gospel has two themes: prayerful confrontation and confronting-prayer to God. Matthew relies on his readers’ awareness of the Law concerning the fault-telling process to the neighbor. Jesus lays out in greater detail how His followers are to “help” one whose sin, (usually in the area of Justice) is to be dealt with. Little comment or reflection need take place, hmmm.
I was sitting in the pew of a church today before a funeral was to begin. Behind me, four persons were entertaining themselves by talking of a certain fault of a relationship belonging to a non-present person. Now perhaps they were discussing this in preparation for one of them to execute the first step of Jesus’ plan. Maybe they had already sent one of their group to this person without profit and they were preparing the next step. It was all taking place while the Church was gathering and maybe they were going to present their collective findings and opinions to the whole group after mass. You see, I was trying to put a good interpretation on their bothering my holy pre-liturgy prayer.
The real problem with presenting my real problem to someone else about their real problem is that I am not sure whether what I consider their problem is just that it bothers me. I need to confront myself honestly first, second and third, then confront God in prayer to see if I am going to be a grace for this other person or just getting rid of my negative energy. I have not found an easy answer or plan.
I would hope that I do wish healthy and graceful living for the other and by my not being honest, this person might be living less. Each Jesuit superior has an appointed “Admonitor”. One was appointed when I was called to be Rector at our high school here in Omaha. This wise man came to me the first day and said he didn’t want to do this at all. I told him I would never say anything upon his admonition except “Thank you”. Every time he came to perform his duty, he would close the door, clear his throat a bit theatrically and let me have it. Then he would walk out, close the door behind him, and then knock for readmittance to have a friendly chat about one thing and another. Confrontation! It does take prayer more than perception.
I suspect we all need to hear about binding and loosing. One way to hear it is that if I bind somebody up in my anger, hurt, or my vengeful feelings, then God does too. Wrong! I know I have to pray alone and in the communal celebrations for a freedom from my tremendous ability to bind. As a young Jesuit, I actually worked in our bindery and I had many first and second hand experiences of the stickiness of the glue pot. It took a special cleaner to de-glue my fingers from each other.
It does all come down to this then, where two or more are gathered, there is going to be the tug-of-war between and among egos which will call for prayer to loose and be unstuck from the glue of our judgments.
I did not confront those people behind me this morning. I think they got bored with their negativity and moved on to other topics. I just smiled and continued praying to not be so judgmental and negative about those who are likewise inclined. Ah, self-confrontation, so sticky.
“Like a deer that longs for running streams,
my soul long for you, my God. My soul is thirsting for the living
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