September 24, 2022
|Saturday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
|Praying Ordinary Time|
Ward off grief from your heart
Our Savior Christ Jesus destroyed death
They were afraid to ask him about this saying. Luke 9
The reading from the Book of Ecclesiates offers us a moving poem with powerful imagery about the loss of youth and the experience of aging and death. It invites us to "Ward off grief from your heart." Several thousand years ago, this writer of Wisdom literature knew the human experience of loss and grief as we age and the skills, flexibility, vision, hearing, strength of our youth diminishes, until it all fails and we die, like cords being cut. The writer comforts us with the consolation that our spirits return to the Creator who breathed this life into us.
In the gospel, we experience Jesus' telling his disciples about his approaching death. It will not be a natural death for him. He will be "handed over." Betrayed. Unjustly condemned. He will ask his Father that he be spared this cup of this full, nasty human experience, but he surrendered to it as the path for him to fully enter into the depths of our humanity, even dying on a cross, at the hands of enemies of his message of mercy.
I have to confess that I identify with the disciples who were afraid to ask him more about the meaning of all of this, for them. It is remarkable how tempting it is not to look very far down the road, to want everything to stay the same, to not face diminishment of life, nor the path of discipleship. When Jesus asks us to die to ourselves, to literally lose ourselves, in order to truly find ourselves, it is easy to so fear the consequences that we don't ask for the grace to do it with peace and trust. Fear of loss is paralyzing and a terrible loss in itself. Trust is liberating and offers us courage and hope. Self-sacrificing love is full of grace.
The consolation Jesus offers us is that he does not leave us alone as we journey in his path. He is always with us. Always loving us. Always there to embrace us in whatever diminishment we face - in the aging process or in the process of dying to self in love for others. The more we ask, "Show me the way," the more we are given the grace to take up the journey of life with greater freedom, joy, compassion, mercy, generosity and peace. The more I let my way of life be like Jesus' , the more I can feel a closeness, an intimacy with him. Living our lives this way is our mission, not only to live the Gospel, but to witness it to others in a world whose values are so different from the way of Jesus.
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