August 30, 2016
by Michael Cherney
Creighton University Physics Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tuesday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 432

1 Corinthians 2:10b-16
Psalm 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13ab, 13cd-14
Luke 4:31-37

Praying Ordinary Time

The first passage from Paul’s letter required that I read it several times before the message started to sink in. What I take away is that wisdom of something or someone blossoms when we have a love of that entity. In Paul’s time (as in other times in history) there were elements of the church with more interest in the worldly power of the organization. I think this may be what Paul is confronting in this reading. I feel that he was trying to insure the spiritual focus of the church.

Today’s readings are somewhat of a challenge for a scientist. I spent the last 7 weeks working at the Large Hadron Collider just outside of Geneva, Switzerland. The things of this world are the focus of my passion at work. Our enthusiasm for something or someone determines the extent to which we are predisposed to learn more about that “thing” and respond to that “thing”. While there I visited the chateau of a French intellectual, Madame de Staël, a woman who lived through the French Revolution and the reign of Napoleon. During the tour Madame de Staël was quoted as pledging herself to God, to her father and to liberty. After the tour, I told my wife that my pledge would be to her. As the day went on this bothered me. My initial thoughts made me acutely aware that I have more confidence in the things of this world. (I can see my wife. I can hear her voice. I can touch her.) Subsequent reflection helped me to realize that it was my love (my enthusiasm) for my wife that leads me to develop our relationship. I realized how much of my relationship with God had become a matter of duty, rather than something growing out of an excited interest.

Having just moved halfway across the country, I can relate to a number of the aspects of today’s Gospel. I feel in many ways that Capernaum was a new beginning for Jesus. He has left his hometown. The people of Capernaum are not familiar with his background and his history. He is no longer constrained by the predispositions that people might have towards him. Jesus quickly establishes his authority both in the synagogue and in the community. Rather than relying on the existing analyses of the Scriptures, Jesus gives his new interpretation. Jesus goes on to show his ability to bring about an internal transformation by healing the demonized man. Jesus is establishing himself as a charismatic leader.

The reading leaves me wondering what I am called to do in my new context. I am hindered by my fears, by self-doubt, by my lack of trust and by what I might call my false self. I need to establish a direction, to recognize my true priorities and to put more trust in God. In this process, I am reminded of the a sign that my father had on the wall of his office; it read, “The only thing worse than a quitter, is someone the man who is afraid to begin.”

My prayer today is for guidance in new beginnings.

Dear Lord,

We face times when we are unfamiliar with our environment and our environment is unfamiliar with us. These are moments when we often establish the pattern for the future.

Help to us use these times to establish the right path. Help us to be aware of you and your guidance in these times.

Help us to feel an eagerness to move forward on the paths to which we are drawn. Help us to use that enthusiasm to better serve you and those with whom we come in contact.

Life is short. Help us not to fear the obstacles, but rather to see the potential and with it the satisfaction of overcoming challenges. 

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