Thursday, July 21, 2016

Lead me into the desert....

When I first got out on my own life was pretty good.   I was working a job at minimum wage.  I had my own place.  My own car.  I had a phone, internet, and food in the fridge.  Then I got a job making twenty five dollars a day driving a bus going to college.   The bills were getting paid.   I was eating well and had many friends.   The summer after I got my Associates degree I decided to get a job as an electrician.   I started making quite a bit more money.   I soon forgot how good life was at the start and began to live at this new level of 'wealth.'

It wasn't long until the bills weren't getting paid.  I had a lot more stuff for sure.   I ate more, partied more, had even more friends.   My relationships were getting more shallow though as I sought more and more enjoyment.  I was making more money than I had ever had.   I had a new car, well new to me.  I had plenty of books, a top of the line gaming computer, high speed internet, and on and on.   I was unhappy though.  Relationships started to fall apart.   Bills stopped being paid.  After a break up with a girl I thought was the 'one,' I took a job with a travelling electrical company and began to go on the road.  I went back to simplicity.   Life was starting to look pretty good again, and it kept getting better. 

The first reading reminds me of that journey.   The Israelites met God in the desert of all places.   In a land where they had to count on Him for food and drink.   They had a relationship and journeyed together.   Then He took them into a land of abundance and immediately they began to put more and more into their lives.  They turned from the one who would give them living water and instead tried to find that fulfillment in things. Just as I had done in my years as a young adult, and just as we tend to do today, we constantly look for that thing which will make us happy.  Sitting around day dreaming about what we would do if we won the lottery instead of looking for the gift that is already there... God himself in the Sacraments. 

The thing about the Gospel to me is that every person heard the same parable, every person encountered the same Jesus.  The Disciples, though, sat at His feet.   They didn't just encounter on a superficial level.   They wanted to be closer, to learn more.   They asked questions.  They journeyed with Him.   That's what relationships are about.  Time spent together.   That is why that little verse from Hosea is so powerful: "So I will allure her, I will lead her into the desert." (Hosea 2:16) This isn't God trying to pull you into the sparse desert to die.. it's a lover wanting to take you back to the simple times.. to where we met... to the beginning of our relationships.. to the way things used to be.  It's God calling to us to have an authentic encounter.  To remove all those things from our hearts that stand in the way of receiving the one thing that fits, the one thing that matters.   To get rid of all these empty, meaningless things... and encounter Him: in the Sacraments, in Sacred silence, and in His most distressing of disguises... the poor, the widow, the orphan, the sick, the prisoner, the refugee, the sinner and the saint. 

His servant and yours, 

"He must increase, I must decrease."

A reflection on the daily Mass readings for Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time: June 21, 2016.  Jeremiah 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13; Psalm 36; The Holy Gospel According to Saint Matthew 13:10-17