14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Thoughts on the First Readings -by Joe Frankenfield
As the LORD spoke to me, the spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard the one who was speaking say to me: Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have revolted against me to this very day. Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you. But you shall say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD! And whether they heed or resist–for they are a rebellious house — they shall know that a prophet has been among them.
If we imagine God standing by our bed tomorrow morning shaking our shoulders to get us up, what do we think he’d have in mind for us to do?
Does God simply want us to get to the job by eight and put in an honest day’s work? Is there more for us to do than keep the kids fed and clothed and make the loan payment on time? If we volunteer an hour each week to drive an elderly person to the doctor have we rounded off our to do list? What does God expect of Christians?
It’s surprising how many of us rarely, if ever, ask ourselves where we’re going – what our Creator is hoping to see us do. We don’t shirk responsibility. We simply assume that someone will tell us what to do or that the demands of life, like a crying child or a neighbor’s request, will make it obvious.
I once commented on this to a parishioner who replied, “I’m not a big picture guy. I just try to get through the day without screwing up.” The problem with that is that Jesus made Christianity a big picture religion when he promised the Reign of God and urged us to play our role in it. The Reign of God is a huge outline of the future. It demands that each of us flesh out the particulars of our character within the larger story.
On trial for his life Socrates told his judges that he asked unsettling questions because the unexamined life isn’t worth living. Jesus told his disciples that they had to pray if they hoped to live his Way. Paul told the Christians of Thessalonica to pray continually. Praying, or examining life, is simply attuning ourselves to what God is up to so that we can get with his program. That assumes, of course, that we believe God’s program is life itself.
Brilliant Catholic thinkers and leaders on the left and right agree on one central point. We Christians will become people of deep prayer or we will cease to be Christian. Like it or not our world is too complicated and changing too rapidly for a faith life to rest content in the assumption that someone else will tell us what to do. No one else knows. We have to discover where God is leading life and how to join the journey. That’s prayer. It’s a big picture thing.