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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.