Thursday, July 27, 2006

Thursday in the 16th Week of Ordinary Time (II)
Acquiring the Taste for Life

Readings: Jeremiah 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13; Psalm 36:6-7ab, 8-9, 10-11; Matthew 13:10-17

“They have abandoned me, the fountain of living water, only to dig cisterns for themselves, leaky cisterns that hold no water.”

It’s perhaps difficult to comprehend why the people addressed in today’s first reading decide to abandon the God who alone is their source of life, and who has continually demonstrated His undying love and fidelity to them, only to “dig… leaky cisterns” for themselves. Can they really be so faithless and foolish?

And yet, do we not also do the same ourselves? We too “dig leaky cisterns” don’t we? Do not many of us live as though we can shop our way to true happiness? (Indeed, is ours not a culture of consumerism? And is consumption not an essential aspect of the global economy?) Do we not place undue emphasis upon how others regard us? Do we not try to “keep up with the Joneses”? Do we not so easily forget that it is impossible to be truly happy ourselves without being conscious, and seeking to alleviate, the sufferings of others? And do we not succumb to the workaholism by which we forget that happiness is primarily a gift of God to be humbly received, rather than an object of anxious striving…

Still, we might continue to ask the question “why?” Why indeed do we “dig leaky cisterns”? The answer is provided by Jesus in the gospel: “the heart of this nation has grown coarse, their ears are dull of hearing and they have shut their eyes…” Like the people of Jesus’ time, we have lost our taste for the water of life.

Thankfully, Jesus also provides an antidote. He tells parables – stories with a hidden meaning. What do parables do? They puzzle and perplex, but only so that listeners might ponder and probe, might look beyond the obvious, so as to find the deeper meaning. Parables are invitations. They are the means by which a loving God ushers us into His presence, to gaze upon the face of the One who is “the source of life.” And let us not be mistaken. Parables are not only to be found in the Bible. In Christ, all of creation – yes, even the mundane aspects of daily living – are parables, invaluable opportunities for us to acquire the taste for the life-giving presence of God. Is it not common, for example, to hear of how various people struggle through particular crises in life, only to arrive at a new-found faith in the living God?

What are the “leaky cisterns” and “parables” in your life?

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