> All the readings together
> Colossians 3:12-17
> Psalm 150:1-2,3-4,5-6
Last night's first installment of Oremus tied in nicely with the first installment of the new Sunday homily series: "Who is Jesus?" Here's a recap and a few connections.
Let's start at the beginnning. Deeper than your longing for Jesus is Jesus' desire for you. The Church teaches us: "God calls man first. Man may forget his Creator or hide far from His face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him; yet the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer. ... God’s initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response." (1) "Although man can forget God or reject him, He never ceases to call every man to seek Him, so as to find life and happiness." (2)
Sound familiar? Ever forget God? Ever hide far from His face? Ever run after idols? Ever accuse God of having abandon you? If so, there is good news: "the living and true God tirelessly" pursues you for "God’s initiative of love always comes first."
A priest since 2001, I often have had to discern in the tension of wanting to spend time with my family, while at the same time having to honor the responsibilities in the parish. My siblings call and invite me to watch the game; but, things get busy and I do not make it. They call again and invite me to come eat dinner; but, things get busy and I do not make it. They call still more and invite me to spend the night; but, things get busy and I do not make it. The fear that often echoes within is, "Are they going to stop calling? If I keep disappointing them, are they one day going to give up on the relationship? Are they going to get tired of me and my games?" Of course they do not, but the fear is there.
The same thing often happens in our relationship with God. The Catechism’s brilliant illustration of our poverty hits close to home doesn’t it? "Man may forget his Creator or hide far from His face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him." We all have our patterns. We all forget God. We all hide from His face. We all run after our idols. And, because the inevitable emptiness birthed from such passive aggression throbs in ache, each of us accuses the Father of having abandoned us. Sound familiar?
While the aforementioned litany may describe the truth of our patterns, the truth about Jesus is that He "tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer." Regardless of our childish games and fear-laden hiding, Jesus tirelessly pursues us. Jesus longs for you infinitely more than you long for Him. In fact, Jesus does not simply take the initiative, Jesus tirelessly reaches out to you. He never tires of reaching out to you. The Father’s tireless pursuit of you precedes your often faint-hearted attempts to respond.
However, even though "God draws near to us" we often recoil at the level of intimacy Jesus intends. "This ‘intimate and vital bond of man to God’ can be forgotten, overlooked, or even explicitly rejected by man. Such attitudes have different causes ... that attitude of sinful man which makes him hide from God out of fear and flee his call." (3) Thus,we all "may forget God" in the busy-ness of life. We may "hide far from His face" after we have fallen into the same repetitive sin that plagues our sense of self-worth or holiness. We "may run after idols," spending more time trying to figure out if we are worthy than we do developing a relationship with the God who is the real source of our holiness. We may "accuse God of having abandoned" us after spiritual desolation hits them, perhaps mainly because of our aforementioned patterns.
CONNECTING THINGS TO THE "WHO IS JESUS?" SERIES
This is especially exhausting for those of us struggling with repetitive sin. Whether it is lust or greed or gluttony, or any one of the capital sins, many of us assume that because we sinned, God will not "show up" if we go to our morning prayer time. For those of us struggling with repetitive sin, a seductive whisper soon rears its head, "God will grow tired of me. God will get tired of my weakness. Soon God will get tired of my sin, and He too will stop reaching out to me." This is a lie, "for the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer."
Nowhere is the mercy of God more eloquently displayed than in Luke 15 and the parable of the prodigal son. This Sunday, September 15 guess where the Gospel is from? Yep ... Luke 15. "The father had certainly not forgotten his son, indeed he had kept unchanged his affection and esteem for him. So he had always waited for him, and now he embraces him, and he gives orders for a great feast to celebrate the return of him who 'was dead, and is alive; he was lost and is found.'" The father is fully aware of his son’s inability to receive fully from the father, thus it was the father who waited for his son to return. Likewise God the Father "tirelessly calls" you as a beloved son and daughter "to that mysterious encounter known as prayer."
Regardless of how often you have forgotten, overlooked, or even explicitly rejected God’s inner invasion of intimacy, the Father is tirelessly calling you to communion. The Father is taking the initiative; The Father is calling; the Father is calling you. The Father is tirelessly calling you "to that mysterious encounter known as prayer."
PREPARING FOR MASS THIS SUNDAY
This Sunday, September 15 we continue the second part of the "Who is Jesus?" homily series. This Sunday's homily will focus on Jesus as the revelation of the Father's mercy. Let's start preparing for Mass this weekend. Click here to read the readings that we'll hear at Mass this weekend. First: read all the readings slowly. Pay attention to the story, the context. Secondly: read the readings again, a second time ... read them even slower. Pay attention to what word or phrase grabs your attention or tugs at your heart. Finally: read the reading that contains the word or phrase grabs your attention or tugs at your heart. Read it really slow. Pay attention to your heart. Now ... talk to God about what stirred within. Talk to Him about the word or phrase grabbed your attention or tugged at your heart. Specifically pay attention to the Gospel and the story of the prodigal son. Where are you drawn? How is God speaking to you about His mercy?
Click here to listen to week 1 of the new series: "Who is Jesus?"
(1) Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2567
(2) ibid., no. 30
(3) ibid., no. 29