Eighth Sunday In Ordinary time – Year A
“The Lord has abandoned me, the Lord has forgotten me”. These words express the suffering of those who, in times of struggle, have lost sight of the Lord as a point of reference for their lives and who experience the void created by this sense of absence. But God never abandons us, for he created man out of love, and from the same love has sought him out in a unique way in Jesus his Son. To use the words of Pope Francis (Homily at Santa Marta, 24 February 2014), “he never leaves us to walk the road alone”. These are not words that merely console but are otherwise empty. They are instead a synthesis of the whole of Sacred Scripture and of the life of the Church: God loves man with an eternal and untiring love. God loves each one of us precisely in this way.
At times, however, we can be distracted. We can be tempted to believe that God is not really near by but distant, as happened to Peter when he sought to reach Jesus by walking on the water (Mt. 14: 28-31). How can this come about? One way is by forgetfulness. Forgetting who God is for me, who I am for God. If we reduce our life of prayer, if, despite being able to do so, we neglect to approach the sacraments, if we are not consciously alert to the poorest and the weakest, then we can no longer recall who God is, for “the believer is essentially “one who remembers”” (Evengelii Gaudium, n. 13). The same sense of distance can also arise if we cease to listen, if we claim God for our own positions, if we bend Him to our will, as if prayer were, so to speak, an ATM that must immediately furnish what we demand. When we have such an outlook, we do not find God’s wavelength, we are ‘tuned out’.
The second reading calls to our minds that virtue that is often and willingly the condition that allows all the other virtues to flower within us and that allows God to make a permanent home in our life and choices, and that allows him to accompany us in our daily journey. The virtue in question is fidelity. It is a disposition of waiting with love, full of serene joy even in times of struggle, made up of words and gestures that constantly call us back to the Lord’s presence. Asking ourselves if we have passed the day in waiting upon the Lord is always a useful spiritual exercise that can form part of our daily examination of conscience.
Fidelity is a faithful waiting upon the future to fully live the present. The words of the Gospel invite us to take each day as it comes, so as to retrieve a healthy sense of priority. Often we rush much more than is necessary, as if the salvation of the world depended on us and on our achievements. Contrary to our intentions, in reality we end up by neglecting those people and circumstances that in theory we want to give more attention to. We wear ourselves out so as to save time, but we end up being ruled precisely by those everyday things that we wanted to manage according to our own preferences. Our salvation, in eternity and in the present, certainly does not consist in gaining the world but in letting ourselves be loved by God, in allowing ourselves to be taken by the hand by Him, who knows best how to lead us along the way. It is enough to consider the wonder that is nature. When he guides it, everything functions with perfect harmony. By contrast, when man makes himself the master of it rather than its custodian, nature suffers, cries out and rebels. Man’s great strength is not in dominating, in overpowering, but in loving and in letting himself be loved. Pope Francis has reminded us that “there is no greater freedom than that of allowing oneself to be guided by the Holy Spirit, renouncing the attempt to plan and control everything to the last detail, and instead letting him enlighten, guide and direct us, leading us wherever he wills. The Holy Spirit knows well what is needed in every time and place. This is what it means to be mysteriously fruitful!” (Evangelii gaudium, n. 280).
Taking Mary Most Holy as our model, and by her intercession, we ask the Lord to help us become true ‘searchers’ for his Kingdom. His Kingdom is already present amongst us and waits for us to make it present in our lives, so that each day may be for us a small and decisive step towards the eternal love of the Father.