Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday in the 6th Week of Easter
Overcoming Inertia

Readings: Acts 18:9-18; Psalm 47:2-3, 4-5, 6-7; John 16:20-23

One of the things we learnt in school was Newton’s Laws of Motion. According to the first law, the law of inertia, a body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion tends to stay in motion. As the years go by, one sees that this law has applications beyond the scientific realm. It also provides a good description of what often happens in the spiritual life as well. We all know how difficult it is to break a bad habit. It’s not easy, for example, to stop smoking or to stop gossiping. We may be enthusiastic at first but gradually we quickly become discouraged when the pangs of withdrawal set in. It’s also difficult to get groups to see and do things in new ways. Those who try often have to deal with different forms of resistance. We know, for example, how even fifty years after Vatican II, there still remain those who continue to resist its reforms. A body at rest tends to stay at rest. It is indeed difficult to change and to try new things. Sometimes the resistance is a sign that it’s simply not the right thing to do, or maybe it’s not the right time for it. But what to do if we are convinced that this is precisely what God wants us to do? Where and how to find the courage to persevere through the difficulty, to overcome the inertia, strong though it may be?

This is exactly the question that Paul faces in the first reading. Here we find an account of the founding of the Corinthian church. We observe the strong opposition that Paul faces from the Jewish community of that city. Anyone would be daunted by such vehement resistance, especially when viewed from a solely human point of view. But instead of getting discouraged Paul finds strength to persevere by looking at the situation from the perspective of God. Although he is rejected by his own people, in his prayer God reassures him in a vision that he will find support from other quarters. And Paul is encouraged to persevere. He remains in Corinth for eighteen months, preaching the good news and thus laying the foundations of what will become a vibrant new Corinthian church.

We see something similar in the gospel, where Jesus encourages his disciples to persevere even as he prepares to walk the road to Calvary. He reminds them to set their sights firmly on the joy that awaits them in the future, the joy that is theirs through his own triumph over sin and death. It is this hope for what is to come that will give them strength to meet the challenges of the present, and to overcome the inertia of those – including themselves – who would resist the good news.

As we meditate on these readings today, perhaps we might ask ourselves if we too are not being called to make a change of some sort, or whether we too are not being encouraged to persevere in a change that we are in the process of initiating. In the face of the different forms of resistance that we might face, how are we being invited to see things from the perspective of the God who is king of all the earth? How are we being encouraged to cling to the hope presented to us by our Crucified and Risen Lord, the hope of lasting joy?

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