I first knew Flor she was a lovely girl but totally lacking in self
confidence. She had no initiative and was afraid to contribute to any
group activity. Flor, came from a big family. One day she said, "In
our family you could work for 24 hours and nobody would ever have a
word of thanks or praise for you, but if you made the slightest mistake
it was as if another world war had been declared." The deprivation
of affirmation that she had experienced made her terrified of any situation
in which she may be criticized.
on the other hand, had experienced that whenever she was with a new
group she was the life of the party for a while, but then she noticed
that her presence could empty a room in minutes. It emerged that she
was a menopausal child - born eight years after the youngest of her
six siblings. She was her father's pet and a little doll for her older
brothers and sisters. She was always center stage singing or dancing
for family guests. With this much affirmation in childhood, she felt
in later life that she should always be at the center of the stage.
Soon others found this very demanding and avoided her so as not to have
to be constantly worshipping at her shrine.
Flor and Susan could be described as fixated in a stage of development.
Because of the fear of criticism or the need for attention they are
not free to move on in the work of life. All of us have bits of Flor
and Susan in us.
the Gospel story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes and
its aftermath, we see Jesus trying to liberate people not only from
their needs but from the fixation that goes with those needs. The crowd
understands him as someone who will satisfy their material needs. For
this reason they want to make him king. Jesus calls them to a deeper
understanding because it is only in faith that they can grasp how he
gives himself to them as food for eternal life. The manna given to the
Israelites in the desert became spoiled after one day, but what he gives
them does not perish. Faith - the letting go of fearful grasping - is
necessary in order to receive the gift of life. Faith is first of all
an openness to hear and receive and respond to the word. The word that
is heard needs to be assimilated so that the Gospel values are appropriated
and made part of us. Ultimately, Faith means letting Jesus make his
home in us, so that he can transform us in a permanent way. It means
making space within for Jesus to not only dwell there but also to let
his attitudes and values influence us in our way of life. Jesus tries
to lead the disciples to long for this life that lives for ever. The
people hunger for living bread but he hungers to live in them to be
a bread that is assimilated into them.
like Flor and Susan, many of us are fixated in our needs. We are too
caught up in our wanting. To hear the call of the Lord is to go beyond
wanting. In ordinary life needs cannot be ignored, they must be accepted
and dealt with and then transcended. Very often though, because of our
fixation, after a need is satisfied we rush greedily to satisfy it again
and again. We cannot transcend.
Jesus fed the multitudes he attended to their basic needs but then he
challenged them to something higher, to let him become their food, to
let him become the source of their attitudes and values; but they were
not ready for this and so could not come to fullness of life.
we look at our own prayer patterns today we will see the same. Prayer
of petition and presentation of concerns to the Lord is very legitimate.
It is asking God "to be Our God" to be caring and liberating
but it often fails to include the prayer that, "we be his people"
who live according to his values.
A way of prayer that is open - like meditation - does not ignore needs, is not fixated, but leaves us open to the challenge to our attitudes and values that is given to us when Jesus - the Lord - makes his home in us.
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