Gospel Reflections by Father Gerry Pierse, C.Ss.R.

C - 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ne 8:2-4, 5-6, 8-10 • 1 Cor 12:12-14, 17 • Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21

Today Is God's Day
Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21

      I sn't it true that looking forward to something is often much better than the event itself? I remember as a child looking forward to an uncle coming home form abroad. We had heard so many stories about him that we had great expectations. However, when he arrived it became clear that he could not stand the sight of children and very soon we learned to get out of his way. We all plan our future lives, our professions, our ideal commitments in marriage or otherwise. When we are planning, everything seems to be fine. But the reality can be very different - often disappointingly so.

      Of course, when we are planning we are in control. As we bake the cake of life we can put in all of the ingredients that we like and keep out the undesirable ones. We can give the characters in our plan ideal personalities and have them go along with our plans. We can put the disagreeable people away in the background. We can plan and lives as if we were the only players. But when we come to actual life things very seldom run according to plans. According to an old saying, "When people plan God laughs." The weather will not be just right. Murphy's law "If it can go wrong, it will go wrong and at the very worst time" will come into operation. Reality is really unpredictable and it can make demands that we never expected. It can also draw energies out of us that we never would believe that we had in us.

      In today's Gospel we find Jesus going into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. The audience were probably like most of us at our Sunday Liturgy, half there, half hearing the nice message. We find ourselves a bit like St. Augustine who prayed in his earlier days when he was far from saintly, "Lord make me chaste - but not now."
The audience found it comforting to hear Jesus read that a Savior, a Messiah, would come to bring good news to the poor… to proclaim liberty to captives… to give sight to the blind and to set the down trodden free… some day in the distant future. A lovely thought. Something to look forward to… no demands for now… but then they were taken aback when Jesus put down the book and said, "This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen." This caused a stir because Jesus was saying that what you hope for is not in the distant future. It's already here. It is here and it is now. Stop putting your future off until tomorrow and begin to do something NOW.

      There can also be a kind of prayer that is ever asking for God's intervention in the future. We want God to come and give us an ideal world with only health and riches. But the presence of God is here and now. This day is God's day. God is to be encountered in this real world. We will never find God if we continue to dream about the day he will come and set everything right for us. He did not set everything right for his apostles or his mother or for himself. He was present in the human mess of intrigue, betrayal, misunderstanding, selfishness and loving self sacrifice. If we are to be with God, we have to be with a God who is in the present moment whether it is a moment of joy or of pain. He is in the present relationships whether they are good ones or bad ones. We cannot change how the wind blows but if we adjust our sails properly it will bring us where we need to go. The energy of God is in every event and happening in our lives. It is for us to recognize it and harness it.

      Often when we pray we are trying to get God to give us our ideal pain-free world. God, on the other hand wants us to accept the reality of his presence in this pain-ridden world. When we meditate, just being still without thoughts or images, we are being present to the here and now. If we do this during our times of prayer we will learn to be present also to the here and now of our daily lives. In this way we will find real joy rather than anticipated fancied future pleasure.


Taken from Sundays into Silence - A Pathway to Life. Copyright © 1998 by Claretian Publications

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Sundays into Silence

A Pathway to Life

by Gerry Pierse, cssr
380 pp., PhP 299, U$ 19.95

“The best word I can find to describe this book is integration. In these reflections on the gospel readings for year A, B, and C of the liturgical cycle, Fr. Pierse integrates the richness of the word of God with experiences and stories from life in the community. He shows how through silence, the word can bear fruit in service and sacrament.” (R. J. Cardinal Vidal)

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