Sunday, June 12, 2016

Musical Chairs

Three Chairs to choose from
In today's first reading we see that King David had it all.   He was rich.  Powerful.  Handsome.   He had an entire kingdom at his beck and call. Not just that, but God was on his side.  If we were to put it in terms of today's society, David's kingdom would be one where every home had a swimming pool, every person was able to eat organic food, and every child had an Iphone 6 at least.  It was a time of prosperity, the golden age of the Israelite kingdom.  Still, he wanted more.   He wanted a beautiful woman that he had been watching from his towering castle walls.  Only one problem, she was married.   So he had her husband killed in order to obtain her for himself.

It's easy for us to stand back and cast condemnation on David isn't it?  Yet, we are in a relationship with God.  A covenant relationship where God has called us to fidelity.  I will be your God and you will be my people.   Every time we choose something over God we are in essence killing Uriah and stealing his wife.   We are going outside of our 'marriage' to sleep with some other god, some other desire in the place of God himself.   St. Augustine said that "Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee."   Yet, 2000 years later we are still trying to put things into that God shaped hole in our heart.. things that don't quite fit.  They might make us feel better for a time.. but eventually.. eventually they chafe and hurt.  Eventually, what once brought us pleasure simply strikes our conscience like Nathan, reminding us of our sin.   Then we either add more of the same thing.. seek something new... or we can turn back to God as David did.

Fast forward to the scene of Jesus in the house of Simon the Pharisee.   This woman comes into the house and anoints Jesus with oil, washing his feet with her tears, and drying them with her hair.  Simon is indignant.   How could this man claiming to be a prophet let her touch him.   Simon thought that he was the righteous one, he was better than her!  He observed all the law and lived a righteous life.   She had a key to the relationship though, she was seeking God first.  She didn't let rules and norms get in the way of loving God, she just loved Him!  Nothing would stand between them.  She wasn't seeking love somewhere else, she was only after God's mercy and forgiveness, and loving Him the best she could.. with everything she had, even her tears.

Again, it's easy for us to look back and condemn Simon isn't it?  We always want to be the woman in the story, Mary of Bethany.   We want to be the one pouring out our tears on Christ's feet, and being forgiven.  Sometimes that is us indeed.   Other times we are Simon aren't we?  Looking down on others who do things differently than we.  Condemning them for the fact they aren't good enough, aren't dressed right, aren't as good as we are.  "How does she keep her job acting that way?"  "Why did she get a better review than me?"  "Did you see her kids misbehaving at the store?  She should control them better!"  We worry about others at Mass when we should be crying at the feet of Christ.   We let our own desires, our wants to be first and foremost, instead of being content with exactly what he has given us.  We kill Uriah over and over.

Remember, being Catholic is about being in a relationship with God.  It's about spousal fidelity.   My wife and I have been married for ten years.  It seems lately like she's inside my head.  We think a like.  We even say the exact same thing at the exact same time.  I'm not talking a word here or there, but entire sentences.  I'll often laugh and say "Get out of my head woman!"  The more time we spend together, the more alike we become.  I've found that to be true of every couple that have been married for generations.   Not only do they think alike, they begin to act alike, even to take on the same mannerisms.

That brings me to my final point.  Sometimes we are Mary of Bethany, sometimes we are Simon the Pharisee, but we are called to be at all times sitting in the chair of Jesus.  How do we do that?  Well just like with my wife, the more time I spend with her?   The more I think like her, act like her, and even begin to look and sound  a bit more like her.   It begins by spending time with her.  Crying at his feet in Confession, seeking his love in the Eucharist, and allowing His sacramental grace to transform us and lead us to be Him in the world.  This is what it means to be in a relationship with God, to live a Sacramental life.  What does that look like?  It's a life of joy.   It's a life where yes, sometimes we have to rebuke those who are being like Simon and to remind them of the true joy of sitting at Jesus feet.   It means seeking our relationship with God first and foremost, and allowing that relationship to effect every other aspect of our lives.

It also means realizing that every single person out there is made in the image of God.  Regardless of how they are living, what choices they have made, or who they seem to be.  With this tragedy of another mass shooting in the United States of America that's even more important than ever.  We can never forget the dignity and love that people deserve, because when we try to relegate them to not worthy.. when we try to put them as the other... that leads to tragedies.  Instead, it's time for us to stand up and be Jesus to the world.  If every Catholic lived their life in a way that made the love, joy and peace that comes from sitting at the feet of Christ evident, the world would be changed.  Are you with me?  Are you ready to show that love? As I said before... sometimes we are Simon.. sometimes we are Mary.. and sometimes we are Christ... which one do you think we need to be more often?


His servant and yours,
Brian

"He must increase, I must decrease."