The Prayer of Amazement
Thoughts on the First Readings –Joe
21th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Joshua 24:1-2, 15-18

The verses omitted between the beginning and end of this portion of the Book of Joshua recount how The Lord rescued the Hebrews from Egypt and gave them a new home in the land of Canaan. In light of that history Joshua asks an obvious question: Given all that The Lord has done for you, why would you ever follow other gods who’ve done nothing for you?

Adoration is a ponderous word. It conjures images of cathedrals, incense and pompous music. It often involves angels, golden thrones and abject prostrations before an Almighty Being. Rarely do we think of it growing out of the normal experience of living – at least 21st century in our part of the world. Still, adoration has been a fundamental type of prayer for millennia. If we don’t want to return to the days of Rome or the late medieval age, what are we to do with the concept?

It may advance our understanding of spirituality if we speak about a prayer of amazement rather than adoration. When we’re amazed, we don’t have to say anything; in fact, we often don’t want to speak because words feel inadequate, even trite. Imagine holding a just-born infant, think of love’s power to bring us out of ourselves for another, ponder the universe’s immensity and intricacy that the Hubble telescope reveals, reflect on humans’ relentless urge toward freedom. The list of amazing realities is endless. Most amazing of all is the simple fact that everything is.

Amazement is at the root of love, of faith, of hope. It’s the core of prayer. Regardless of the words we use to express it – if we use words at all – being amazed is experiencing God. Even though we get the disquieting sense that it will move us beyond our answers and certitudes, we have both a boundless longing and capacity for amazement. It drives life.

Amazement is God’s Spirit within us. Embrace it.