Wednesday, May 22, 2013

In and Out With God (and Others)

Wednesday: 22 May, 2013 –– 7th Week in Ordinary Time
Sirach 4:11–19 / Mark 9:38–40
In and Out With God (and Others)

We cannot comprehend the wisdom of God.  We are invited to contemplate God’s wisdom, and Sirach reminds us that contemplation has an affect: we become wiser as we learn to love and hearken, to trust and obey.

I sometimes think of where my understanding of Christian practice was fifteen years ago.  I was a successful pastor. Many people told me how much they were growing in their Christian lives through my didactic sermons. The orientation of my life was turned toward Jesus. Yet, I was not to stay where I was.

None of us should have static spiritual lives (actually, we cannot –– if we are not progressing we are regressing!). We are not designed to plateau with God.  This means we are all a work in process.

We are being wise when we can recognize stages of spiritual life. Not every person is at the same place of contemplation and understanding. It is human nature to want to judge someone who does not appear as “advanced” as we are, and it’s human nature to shrink back if we think someone is far beyond us. In either case, it’s a trap. Our focus is to be where we each are in relation to God. It is good if we can look back at our own lives and see growth –– maturation and increasing fruitfulness. It is also good to keep a proper reverence for God, because that will keep us humble.

The disciples were looking at others and judging. Jesus gave them words that we need to hear again and again: For whoever is not against us is for us (Mk 9:40).

Can we remember that?  Can we learn to apply that when others who own the name of Jesus are not where we are? This does not mean we compromise our commitment to the teachings of the Church, but it does affect our attitude and approach. We are called to live in a relationship with the Lord which puts the issue for each of us where it should be: Am I committed to Jesus and obeying him as best I know how?

Let’s seek to give an honest yes to that question, and leave to the Lord the implications of what he told the first disciples so long ago: whoever is not against us is for us. God is big enough to work it all out!

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