Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wednesday in the 6th Week of Easter
Memorial of St. Andrew Bobola, SJ
In God’s Time…

Readings: Acts 17:15, 22—18:1; Psalm 148:1-2, 11-12, 13, 14; John 16:12-15

It can sometimes be difficult and even discouraging to live our Christian calling to the full. This is especially so at times when we have to wait. Sometimes, we may, for example, have to wait even as we struggle to understand why something has happened. At other times, in spite of the pains that we may take to set a good Christian example, we may still have to wait a long time for a particular individual, perhaps a loved one, to finally embrace the faith. Or, our waiting may also be for a group of people to see the truth of the gospel in a particular situation. This group may sometimes be small, like a parish neighborhood group. But it can also be as large as the whole universal church. We remember, for example, how the contents of many of the documents of the Second Vatican Council are based on the work of several theologians who had earlier been suspected by church authorities of presenting erroneous teaching and so silenced. It can indeed be difficult and discouraging in such circumstances to continue proclaiming the gospel in the particular way and situation in which we find ourselves. At such times we may find the courage to persevere by recalling two insights in our readings today.

The first is the radical nature of the gospel we are sent to proclaim. We often hear how faith and reason go together. And it is important to remember that. But, as we see in today’s first reading, it is also important to remember that faith also requires us to go beyond reason. Paul’s speech in the first reading, for example, is a model of rational thinking and presentation – things which should have appealed to his Athenian listeners. Yet many laugh at him when he gets to the crux of his message: the raising of Christ from the dead. Surely, it is no easy thing to expect rational minds to accept such a truth. And this is especially so because one can really only accept Christ’s rising if one is first ready to accept the dying that precedes it. Indeed, in any given situation, to embrace the truth of the good news often requires that we be willing first to die in order to live anew. Isn’t this why it is so difficult for us, let alone for others, to accept what the Lord might be saying at any given time and place?

The second insight is one that Jesus, excellent teacher that he is, reminds us of in the gospel today. I still have many things to say to you, he says, but they would be too much for you now. For every situation and person, there is an appropriate time for the truth to ripen such that it becomes more palatable, radical though it may be. Eager as Jesus is to share all that he is and has with his beloved disciples he is careful to respect their need for time to digest all that he is saying. He recognizes that the Spirit will gradually reveal all to them in due time. How is Jesus able to do this? How is he able to wait so serenely and patiently for his disciples to come to the knowledge of the truth? Is it not because he places his trust in the workings of the Spirit? Is it not because he trusts in the saving power of the God in whom we live and move and exist? And are we not all called to do the same, even as we continue to do our best to proclaim the good news to all we meet?

How are we being invited to wait today?

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