SOUL FOOD, on the FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME: FEBRUARY 3RD, 2013.
Letter to Sinead and Mark, two young adults.
‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you.’ Wow! Think about it! Your heavenly Father and mine, who knows the number of hairs on the head of each person, knew you and knew me, in our mother’s wombs,- knew us intimately and everything about us. And still does. God is that close, that intimate, right now, with each one of us, and with all of us together, his people, his ‘beloved’. ‘The kingdom of God is near at hand’,- literally!
And when Jesus tried to tell that to his own neighbours, his fellow-villagers from the back-woods town of Nazareth, they couldn’t take it. It was all too close, all to near, and it scared them: ‘this text is being fulfilled today, even as you listen!’ he had said, a few minutes earlier, in the synagogue.
He had just told them that the Spirit of God was in him, and he was here to bring people great news (about God’s closeness to them right where they were just then), he was here to lift the downtrodden, set people free (from all sorts of stuff),- and they just couldn’t take it. It was too immediate for them, and they started to scorn him,- ‘ah, sure, don’t we know who you are and your family…’ (just the way we often do it in Ireland.) It was their way of putting it all off till another day,- putting responding to God’s closeness on to the long finger.
If he had told them to go off and do something heroic, some great deed, to win God’s blessings, they would have rushed off right away to do it. But to be told that they didn’t have to do a thing except to welcome God’s gift, God’s closeness,- just to receive a ‘gift’ of God’s real presence and activity in their lives, ah no! They wouldn’t have earned it themselves, so they didn’t want it.
And when Jesus held up a mirror to them of what they were doing, they got angry and gave him the push,- trying to throw him over the cliff outside the town. He slipped away from them.
And it’s so hard for us to receive that pure gift also,- our God is closer to us than we could ever imagine, God is working in my life in this particular place and on this particular day. God loves me and wants the very best for me, and is calling me to welcome him. Ah, that’s hard. It means that I’ve got to let go and let God!
‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you.’ If it was true in the womb, it’s true this day in February, and it’s true where I am at this moment. Pure gift. Lifting us up. But are we willing to be lifted up?
Maybe today could be that ‘Wow’ day in my life, at last. ‘Here’s lookin’ at you’, he says, to me and to you.
Seamus Devitt C.Ss.R.
P.S. See Homepage for information on St. Blaise, patron saint for sore throats, whose feast day falls on this Sunday, Feb. 3rd. Many Catholics seek the blessing of throats on this day.