Wednesday in the 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (I)
What We Were Sent to Do…
Readings: Colossians 1:1-8; Psalms 52:10, 11; Luke 4:38-44
Probably not too many of us will have experienced having crowds of people clamouring for our attention the way Jesus does in the gospel. We are told that at sunset all those who had friends suffering from diseases… brought them to him… And even at the crack of dawn, the crowds went to look for him… Whether it was day or night, people couldn’t seem to leave Jesus alone.
But even if we may not have to face the same crowds as Jesus did, it’s probably more than likely that each one of us will have the experience of having the various people in our lives make different demands upon us, upon our limited resources of time and energy. And one cannot meet all these demands at once. To say yes to one often means having to say no or later to another. And the simple policy of first come first served doesn’t always work either. What if the one who comes second has a more urgent need than the first? Or what if the one who comes third is a close relative? Amidst the chaos of daily living, one often has to choose among the different demands that others make upon us, as Jesus does today. How Jesus does this is instructive.
As is often highlighted in Luke’s gospel, Jesus goes to a lonely place and prays. Even (especially?) when the crowds are large and the needs are many, Jesus takes a time out. For him, prayer is clearly less of an obligation than it is a necessity. The gospel makes this clear to us because not only does it tell us about the fact that Jesus prays, but it also gives us some insight into the effect of his prayer, as well as its likely content. Jesus’ prayer helps him to decide what to do in the midst of the various demands that others are placing upon him. Finally, he decides to leave, even though the crowds urge him to stay. But what Jesus decides is probably less important than the criterion he invokes: that is what I was sent to do. In order to make a decision about how to respond to the needs of others, Jesus takes time to converse with the Father, and to recall who he is and what he was sent to do. And this time out results in a decision that is as wise as it is difficult. As a result, we see the beginnings of the process described in the first reading and that continues today: the Good News… is spreading all over the world…
In the hurly burly of our own daily existence, it is too easy to be distressed and distracted by the various demands that others place upon us. What steps do we take to recall, at least from time to time, who we are and what we were sent to do?