Thursday, August 18, 2016

Leaving the Nest

The eldest of four is moving out today.   She ventures into the world to experience it from a different perspective.   I remember doing the same thing shortly before my eighteenth birthday, though I did not move very far away at that point.   Like my parents, I've tried to help her to be prepared for what life has to offer.  Not just the roses and enjoyments, but also making sure she isn't completely unaware of the gritty and horrible side of life.   As parents that is our job.   To prepare them for the world.  To give them the tools necessary, the knowledge to go forth and become who God has created them to be.   As she moves out I pray and hope she finds joy in this life, but more especially that she lives in a way that reaches towards eternity.

So often we reject that knowledge though, don't we?   I remember that I began to do things 'my way' as soon as I got on my own.   I did go to church, but not as much as I should have.   I didn't put the Gospel into action in my life.   I wasn't a horrible person on the inside, but my actions bespoke a brokenness that was evident to those of faith.   I had been baptized but I wasn't living out that calling to it's fullness.   I thought as long as I have faith, that's all that matters right?  That as long as I believed in Jesus, confessed him with my mouth, I was 'saved.'   It seems I was rejecting a lot of the knowledge that my Father had given me as well.

God in today's readings promises a renewing.   He promises that He will take away our stony hearts and give us hearts of flesh.  The Psalm of David's lament reminds us of that longing for God's joy, for a renewing of that Spirit with in us.   When we are broken those words are so powerful to read.   To remind us that God can clothe us in righteousness and salvation.   That the invitation to be renewed has already been offered and needs to be accepted.   You and I both have been offered the invitation to the wedding feast, but it takes more than just accepting it to attend.

The Gospel reading is one that many people avoid.   It's one that gets rid of that notion that one can just confess with their lips, believe, and be saved.   It reminds us that we must 'do' something.  Saint James phrases it this way, "Faith without works is dead."   When all of the people who should have been at the wedding refuse?  The King calls to the ones in the streets, the outsiders, the broken, the widow and the orphan.   He invites them all to the feast and He seemingly provides for them a garment to wear.   One man shows up without it.   The King inquires how he got in without being dressed for the occasion and then casts him out.   It's not enough to just receive the invitation.... you must have a change, do something, put on the garment.   What garment?   Saint Paul expresses it to Timothy in this way: "The aim of this instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith."    That is the garment.   He also says "If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.  And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing."

At a homily a few days ago Father Don spoke of Metanoia.   That fancy Greek word which means to turn around, to change.   It has a stronger meaning.   It has a connotation of turning inside out.  Today we might say "flipping our life upside down."   That's what it means to put on the garment, the arraignment for the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.   It means to turn your life around completely.   To stop living for self, and to embrace the tools the Father has given you to become the person He has created you to be.   It means to stop doing it "my way" and to start living out the thing we say at Mass every time we attend: "thy will be done."

His servant and yours,

"He must increase, I must decrease." 

A reflection on the readings for Thursday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time: August 18th, 2016.  Ezekiel 36:23-28; Psalm 51; The Holy Gospel According to Matthew 22:1-14