Monday, July 11, 2016

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

A reflection on the daily Mass readings for Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time: July 11, 2016.

Isaiah 1:10-17
Psalm 50
The Holy Gospel According to Matthew 10:34-11:1

This morning as I was reading the Mass readings for today, I was reminded of something that happened this weekend on the retreat that I think fits in nicely.  One morning I was standing in the lobby watching the sun rise over the Mississippi River when I noticed a tree frog climbing up the inside of the glass next to me.  Every time I would move he would freeze and begin to lose traction, sliding back towards the floor.  As long as he did not look away from what he was doing to watch me he would climb towards his goal, wherever that was.  It was only when he looked at me instead that he would end up right where he started.  That to me speaks rather eloquently of what Isaiah was speaking to the Israelites about.

He was chastising them, not for sliding down the door, but for not climbing at all.  They had become so complacent in their sin that they were just continually offering sacrifice.  They were no longer truly offering their hearts to God with contrition.  Now they were just sitting at the bottom of the door, not even bothering to try to change.  Why bother climbing?  We are just going to slide back down.  They had lost sight of their goal and were simply looking around at all the distractions.  Isaiah was reminding them to get to climbing again, to start doing more than just hollow ritual.

God calls us in the same way to make love our focus and justice our aim.  In the Gospel we see an echo of that line from Isaiah when Jesus speaks of the reward a disciple will receive for giving a cup of water to the thirsty children.  Jesus knows this is controversial, a teaching that the world will not want to follow, but one that we must do.  After reading some news articles of the events that transpired in our country while I sat in peace and silence listening to God, I realize even more how important that is today.  In one of the readings just yesterday we were reminded that praying for someone without giving them what they needed was worthless.  That doesn't aim the arrow at the center of the target.. but somewhere off to the side.

This is how we climb our door, how we gain traction to get up the glass of life.  To reach out to those in need.  Those who are thirsty and hungry.  To feed them and give them drink.   That's both physically, for we have many hungry widows, orphans, less fortunate and refugees who need our help; and spiritually.  There are many young men and women out there who are hurting right now.  There is a void there that needs to be filled, something inside that causes them to lash out.  What are their needs? The only way to know is to listen.  Is to have an earnest conversation and say, "How can I help?"   Then to help.  Not just to get a good glimpse of the door that needs to be climbed.. but to start climbing it together.  We climb our door by helping them climb theirs.

His servant and yours,

"He must increase, I must decrease."