Friday, July 15, 2016

Sourpusses!

"My dwelling, like a shepherd's tent, is struck down and born away from me."  A shepherd's tent is a hastily constructed tent that is only intended for the night.  Something that if the wind picks up is blown away and no longer to be found.  When the shepherd's move on they are often left in place and within a short time nothing is left but tatters and rags. One would be hard pressed to even tell what it was that had stood there.  It reminds me of the scene in the Wizard of Oz when the house circled in the tornado and you could see all of this being carried off with it.  Our dwelling though, is our body.  Hezekiah feels that his life is over and he mourns the loss. 

The readings remind us that this life is fleeting and finite.  That our only hope is in the Lord who made heaven and earth.  Hezekiah calls out to Him and He performs a miraculous healing and even makes the Sun itself move backwards in time to prove it will come about.   We often do a lot to extend our lives.  We diet, we exercise, we go to doctors time and again.   Those are all good things.   Do we take it to God in prayer?  He is the source of life itself.  Why do we only tend to do the physical while ignoring the spiritual half of our lives? 

One of the more serious temptations which stifles boldness and zeal is a defeatism which turns us into querulous and disillusioned pessimists, “sourpusses”. - Pope Francis


Some take it to extremes though.  Saint Francis at the end of his life looked back on all of the mortification he did on himself, the rough life that truly destroyed his health, and he realized that that was not good either.  God did not create us to live lives of dour, resent-filled hours.   He created us to be at peace and filled with joy.   Yes, to be a temporary structure, but one that is so filled with love that it is not concerned with the next moment.  A structure that just provide shelter to those in need in the present, not consumed with the ills of the past or the fears of the future.  Mortification is important, but we have to be careful how far we take it.  If it draws us closer to God?  Continue.   If it makes you feel hopeless or despair?  Get rid of it. 

Jesus reminds us that God gave us everything He gave us for our own benefit.  Even the Sabbath was not meant as something to make you starve yourself, but a day of rest in which you could commune with God and with one another.  It is not a rule made by a tyrant who sits around all day waiting to cross your name out of His book of life the moment you make a mistake, but one made by a loving Father who realizes His children often forget that they too need to take a day to rest and recover.  Be a shepherd's tent, but don't let the world blow you away before it is time.  Take a moment each day to recover, and a day each week to rest and contemplate the wonder of God's great gift to us.   All of our life is a gift, and the Gospel a treasure to make us fully human, not to punish us and turn us into 'sour pusses . ' 

His servant and yours, 
Brian 

"He must increase, I must decrease." 

A Reflection on the Daily Mass readings for Friday of the fifteenth week of Ordinary time: July 15, 2016. Isaiah 38:1-6, 21-22, 7-8; Isaiah 38:10, 11, 12, 16Matthew 12:1-8