fascinate some people and frighten others. Usually the young are attracted
and the old repelled by them, but there are exceptions.
I met a student of 20 who resisted becoming computer literate. On
the other hand, if you visit the Jesuit Retreat House in Cebu you
will find Fr. Art Shea perched at his key board, youthful looking
lose their bearings and panic when they see a computer. Luisa was
the manager of a small firm for more than twenty years. Times have
changed and the owners wanted to modernise the business. They were
in no way criticising the management of Luisa, and assured her of
her position, but said that the accounts would have to be encoded
and managed by someone trained in computers. She immediately felt
threatened and began to declaim against computers, her computer fluent
assistant and the management, who, according to her, were so ungrateful
for her years of unstinted service. This new development made her
lose her bearings. Her situation it itself was not alarming but her
fearful reaction did put her position in jeopardy.
we read from the third chapter of St Luke's Gospel. We find Luke going
to pains to give us solid bearings. "In the fifteenth year of
Tiberius Caesar's reign, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea,
Herod tetrarch of Galilee
the word of God came to
John son of Zechariah in the wilderness." In the first two chapters
of the Gospel we had stories that were more important for the theology
that they taught than for the history that they related, but now we
are talking about events that happened in a definite time and place.
As Luke, differing from Mark, was writing mainly for a foreign Greek
audience he needed to give a sense of historical rootedness to establish
his credibility with his new audience. Having done this he has no
problem in recording how John the Baptist challenged his audience,
and us, to a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin.
is very important to be NOW and HERE. If we are not NOW-HERE we are
NO-WHERE. The problem is that you cannot be NOWHERE and if you insist
on trying to be NOWHERE you can never move to somewhere else. You
move away from a place unless you are first there, either physically,
psychologically or spiritually.
will clarify this basic truth from the practice of grieving or mourning.
The Gospel tells us "Blessed are those who mourn; they shall
have joy." What does this mean? I think it means that those people
who accept that they have lost something or somebody, and who feel
the pain deeply, are blessed, because when they do this they can move
on to joy. Recently, I visited a woman who was widowed a year ago.
Basically, she was trying to pretend to herself that things were the
same as they used to be - that her husband had not died. She was afraid
to move into the pain space. And because she would not move in there
she could not move out of it. She was afraid, too, that to show any
joy would be to betray her husband and her love for him. It was very
hard for her to see that if her husband really loved her he would
want her to recover and move on to having joy in her life again without
him. If he would not wish that he was not a husband worth mourning
in the first place! So, to move into the pain, and to be in the pain,
is blessed, because this is the first step to moving out of the pain
and into joy.
is necessary to BE where you are and to know where you are before
you can move to a better place. John the Baptist stands out in the
scriptures as a person who knew where he was and where he wanted to
people use prayer as a way of denying who and where they are. They
pray that God will take away their painful situations like a bad dream.
They pray for deliverance from suffering rather than for deliverance
through suffering. Jesus, the innocent one, faced reality and suffering.
He told us to come to him with our burdens and that he would make
them light but they would still be burdens.