Saturday, August 27, 2016

And the lava flowed into the sea...

I remember as a young man seeing video of a volcano for the first time.  The lava was flowing down the mountain into the ocean.   When it touched the water, it roiled and exploded.   Such raw power, such destruction!   I was filled with fear that such a thing could happen to us!  I knew there were no active volcanoes anywhere near our home in Virginia.   Yet, the image was stuck in my mind and for days I couldn't sleep for fear of seeing them in my dreams.  That's the image that the Israelites experienced first hand in the desert of God.   Loud booming sounds, smoke and fire, lightning and thunder.   An image of God so terrifying that they begged Moses to go intercede for them for fear that just hearing God's voice would cause them to die.

The author of Hebrews gives us a different image of God.  That of a 'festal' gathering.  A party!  Recently I went to a wedding with Julie's family.   It had been years since we had been to anything of this sort.  With work and the kids we just couldn't find time or the money to go.   When we arrived though, we were welcomed with open arms and warm familial hugs.   We didn't feel out of place, but rather felt we were part of the family... The words that come to mind are: familiar, warm, inviting, peaceful, joyful, welcome.   That's the image we get of Heaven.   Not something to be feared, but a place to long for.   A gathering around the wedding feast of the Lamb where "everyone knows your name."

The key to being invited though, the key to the entire walk of the Christian life, is humility.   Not some false humility where one puts themselves down in order to make them look even more 'humble' than someone else, but a true sense of humility in which we realize exactly who we are.  An honest assessment of ourselves. A recognition that we are indeed sinners, and yet are called adopted Sons/Daughters of the most High!   That we are fallen in nature but chosen in calling.   Acceptance of the fact that we are holy, set apart, consecrated for God... not in some haughty manner, but in gentle, silent awe filled wonder that we are who God says we are.... that kind of humility allows us to take the lesser seat.   To sit at the foot of the table.  Because we know that's where we belong... and if God left us there?  We would have no qualms, no quarrels of sitting with the least of our brothers....

It's there that we encounter Christ in the here and now.   In the eyes of the distressful disguises that He chooses to wear.   In the outcast, the orphan, the widow... the broken, the fallen, the addicted, the scared... yes, there that we sit with Him at the table... Yet we are called to be like Christ in all things, yes?   To be not just guests at the wedding, but co-hosts with our adopted Brother.   Are you doing your part?  Are you going out to the honored guest and lifting them up to a higher place?  It's in the sick, the poor, the angry, the unappreciated, the fallen away, the mangled up, chewed up, and spit out person that we encounter Christ face to face... are you helping Him find a higher place at the table?  Christ deserves the seat of honor.. the highest praise... the best meal and the best plates... are you offering Him the best you have?  Or are you leaving Him sitting at the lower end of the table while you sit with those who make you comfortable?

We have work to do Church... more especially I have work to do.

His servant and yours,

"He must increase, I must decrease." 

 A reflection on the readings for the Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time: August 28th, 2016.  Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29; Psalm 68:4-5, 6-7, 10-11; Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24; Luke 14:1, 7-14