- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

January 24, 2019

Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO [1]

2nd Thursday in Ordinary Time

One of the occupational hazards of those who live a silent life is that there are fewer things to distract us from our own interior problems. Even while singing the liturgy or working in silence, we can let our minds think too much about our latest failure or embarrassment, or about situations in the Church or in politics that we can’t do much about, and so we spend time worrying about them. This preoccupation with our own selves, if we really keep working at it, is a good way to grow in unhappiness. It is not a good way to grow closer to God.

If God lets us experience our weaknesses one by one, it’s not so that we can devote most of our waking hours to thinking about them. It’s so that we can turn to God with all of our faults and failings intact, and give our selves to him just as we are. That is not just good psychology. It is a personal invitation from Jesus to join the crowd in today’s Gospel: he had healed many people, and now everyone who had something wrong was pushing and shoving to get near and touch him. These people did not spend their time bemoaning their faults and looking at themselves. Instead, they looked at Jesus, touched him with their prayer, and came away at peace with themselves and with God.

The purpose of being confronted with our own misery is not so that we feel miserable. It’s so that we can know better who this person is that we are bringing to God, and so that God can bring home to us how very deeply he loves us, when even what we know about ourselves does not prevent him from loving us. On the contrary, St Frances de Sales wrote that our need serves a as kind of throne for Divine Love. Something in the very being of God longs for us to give ourselves to him in our need, so that he can give himself to us in his love. The experience of our weakness is Love’s way of calling attention to our need of him, so that God can deepen the love between him and us.

If we do join the crowd in today’s Gospel and touch Jesus with our prayer, we know the result from the first reading: Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through him, always on the job to speak up for them. By bringing to Jesus all that we are in prayer, we need not fear that will have to stand alone in our need before the living God. Jesus, our fellow human being, accompanies us to the throne of Divine Love, and makes up for whatever keeps us from surrendering ourselves totally to God.

All it takes is to place in his hands all our fears and weaknesses, our faults and failings, and let him do what he thinks best. Our task will be to see what our greater self-knowledge tells us about God’s love for us. The response of one who loves God will be to offer every human need as part of the throne for Divine Love, so that God may fill our soul’s loneliness and turn our desolation into joy. Blessed are those who, even now, are called to the supper of the Lamb, who gives himself to us at this Mass, in love.