Wednesday in the 17th Week of Ordinary Time (I)
Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
What It Feels Like
Readings: Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 99:5, 6, 7, 9; Matthew 13:44-46
If on Monday we were led to consider what the coming of God’s kingdom looks like, today we are invited to reflect upon what it might feel like. Perhaps we often have the sense that religion has much to do with sacrifice. And the Ten Commandments that we heard some days ago might even have confirmed us in this view: thou shall not this and thou shall not that… What then might the coming of God’s kingdom feel like if not sacrifice?
Of course, sacrifice does have a large part to play. We notice, for example, how in the first reading, the glow on Moses’ face causes him considerable inconvenience. People avoid him. He even has to put on a veil to cover his face. And the two people in today’s gospel make a considerable sacrifice in selling everything they own. But the accent in today’s readings is not on the feeling of having to make an unwelcome sacrifice. Despite being inconvenienced, Moses continues to enter the tent of meeting. And although the people in the parables sell everything they do it very eagerly and joyfully.
I’m reminded of a story I heard recently about the university undergraduate who was rather lazy. He was often too busy to help when his mother needed him to run an errand at the neighbourhood grocery store or when his younger brother needed some help with his homework. Then he met a new girlfriend. And suddenly, even though the girl lived on the other side of the island, he’d think nothing of visiting her everyday just to run errands for her mom and to tutor her brother. The difference falling in love makes…
Isn’t this what the coming of the kingdom feels like? Not so much the obligation to make sacrifices as the love that motivates it. And haven’t we more than ample reason to fall in love? After all, it is God who has first loved us in sending us Jesus to be the atoning sacrifice that takes away our sins (see 1John 4:10).
In the oft-quoted words of the late Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ (27th Superior General of the Society of Jesus):
Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in a love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.