September 26, 2016*
by Eileen Wirth
Retired Faculty
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 455

Job 1:6-22
Psalm 17:1bcd, 2-3, 6-7
Luke 9:46-50

Praying Ordinary Time

It’s sad and somewhat ironical.  Progressing from childhood to adulthood is in many ways a journey of learning to trust less and less.  We find out the hard way that some people lie and cheat and that not everyone loves us.  We often respond by building walls around our hearts. 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks us to reverse this journey and to again become like trusting children – and the stunningly beautiful Psalm assures us that God will protect us if we do. 

This sounds great if we can manage it.  However,  it’s tough, especially for anyone who has experienced a lost love or friendship or a fractured family relationship. 

We might wish to go back to the days when we believed that our parents could do ANYTHING and protect us from everything.  But we can’t.

Sadly, in junior high or earlier, most of discover that our parents aren’t omnipotent or infallible.  We realize that if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we can get hurt.  We begin to try to shelter ourselves from loss and pain. 
This is just the opposite of how both Jesus and the Psalm suggest we need to live.  Somehow we need to summon the courage to trust God and other people.

It’s obvious that many people desperately want to accept this message, if only because several hymns based on the text of the Psalm  are among the most popular religious music around.

We continue to look for loving relationships with God and others even when we’ve been hurt.  Eventually we may come to understand that an essential part of being human is working our way through from pain to trust. 

At times of loss or sorrow, thousands of people sing “On Eagles Wings” or “Be Not Afraid” and find some comfort in them.  They realize they can never fully protect themselves – that only God can do that. 

Perhaps if we can sing this message, we can live it, even when our human instincts tell us to close our hearts rather than open them. 

* This reflection is taken from the archives for these readings in 2000.

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