Daily Reflection
February 11th, 2001
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
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The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time 
Jeremiah 17:5-8
Psalms 1:1-4, 6
First Corinthians 15:12, 16-20
Luke 6:17, 20-26

In the political system of the United States, the President gets to select those persons he wishes to fill the various “Cabinet” positions.  These names are presented for confirmation by the members of the Congress.  The opposition party usually takes this opportunity to challenge the choices, but even more, the ability of the President to choose proper appointees.  The persons selected for this ordeal of service must have a clean history and a thick hide.  They undergo intense scrutiny before their being selected and even more during their Confirmation Hearings.  Obviously, many people are overlooked because of their personal history or thinness of skin.

In today’s First Reading Jeremiah sets out two groups of persons according to where they get their support.  There are the “cursed” who trust totally in human frailty.  Their roots seek for stability in the salty desert of merely human strength.  Shallow is their reach and constant thirst is their constant “waste of shame.”

The opposing group finds their support in the Lord.  They are planted near a constant stream which like a tree, reaches out for sustenance and growth from the faithful-flowing water.  These can take the heat of examination and the cold of rejection.  Their stability is deep, because their roots have patiently and faithfully sought their source and final end.

The Gospel passage, which we hear today, has Jesus coming down from the mountain where He has chosen the twelve members of His “Cabinet.”  They will spend the rest of their lives being examined and rejected.  Amidst the crowds from all corners of the region, Jesus addresses directly these simple, hard-working fellows in terms which leave us scratching our simple, hard working heads.  They are not promised any short-term results or perks.  Jesus announces that they will be blest when they are poor, hungry, weeping and persecuted.  These “Cabinet” members begin, each one, to examine themselves, as do we, about whether they want to cast their futures beyond this world’s time.  Now or later seems to be the question of the moment.

Jesus is not finished though; He has some more examination questions for His followers.  “Do you know that if you are rich now, later you will have had your consolation?”  “Do you know if you are full now, later you will reach for and never obtain?”  “Do you know if you laugh at everything now, you will weep at the loss of everything later?”  “Do you know if all you do is make your life’s choices so as to have everybody speak well of you, that those who lived falsely before you, were celebrated for their lies and then dismissed?” 

These questions make us wish we hadn’t read or heard these readings.  The Disciples heard them and began their wondering, as we do, where do we find our stability; in human support, reinforcement and meaning, or in the constant faithfulness of God’s care.  For us as well, it is the “now or later” question.

It is said here in Nebraska, that of a warm and humid summer night, out in the fields, if you listen, you can hear the corn stalk growing.  Why you would want to hear it grow is another question.  Our more complexing question is about how do we grow so as to be a fruitful tree.  We want results for our efforts and the quicker the better.  We would like to know at all times how quickly our roots are growing.  Jesus never told His disciples how they were doing, but He did advise them what they would be doing if they had their trust in His ways.  It was always their need for immediacy that got them in trouble.  It is that way with us as well. 

We wonder as we hear these words, whether we can be or are, poor enough to share, hungry enough to keep reaching, loving enough to weep and grateful enough for who we are in Christ, that we can stand firm in the face of being rejected.  Our roots take time.  There is a tomorrow, but we only grow today.  We either find the temporary in the shallows or our depth in the relying on God’s grace to help us face the call and the Caller.  The Disciples heard these sayings and continued their walk with Jesus knowing that He hadn’t forgotten what He had told them, but didn’t demand immediate compliance either.  That stream of God’s faithful love does not run dry whether we are reaching for it or not.  God is more faithful than we are, thank God!

“They ate were filled; the Lord gave them what they wanted- they were not deprived of their desire.”

 Ps. 78, 29-30


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