Wednesday in the 25th Week of Ordinary Time (I)
At the Information Booth
Readings: Ezra 9:5-9; Tobit 13:2, 3-4a, 4befghn, 7-8; Luke 9:1-6
I was quite an imp as a child. Whenever I was brought to a shopping mall, I used to love to go running around on my own. And, of course, when you go running around on your own, you run the risk of getting lost. My parents’ approach to the problem was quite simple. The first thing they did when we arrived at a mall was to point out to me where the information booth was. If you get lost, they’d say, come here, tell the person your name and ask him or her to page for your parents.
Our daily living involves plenty of running around. For better or worse, whether we like it or not, we live in the world. Not only that, but like the apostles in the gospel today, it is also in the world that we Christians are meant to fulfill our calling. Even the cloistered religious or the hermit, who doesn’t seem to run around at all, by his/ her solitary life, bears witness in the world. And because this is so, because we have to be running around in some way, we face the same risk that I faced as a child. We risk getting lost. We risk forgetting who we are and what we are meant to do.
In the course of our running around, we quite easily begin to go only wherever we want to go, and to live only for ourselves, or our own family, or our own community. We run the risk of forgetting that, at least for us Christians, what gives meaning to our running around is the fact that we have been sent. And sent not just for ourselves and for our own, but also for others. Like the apostles before us, we are sent to, in some way, proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
Yet, even when we do remember this, we can still get lost in other ways. Amidst the pressures and demands of running around, don’t we also sometimes forget from where our strength comes? Don’t we tend to rely only on our own resources, our own talents, our own friends and contacts? Isn’t this why some of us can become so obsessed with hoarding the resources we think we need, in whatever form these might take? And yet, as the gospel reminds us, the power and authority that we need is not something for which we can work. It is given to us by the one who summons and sends us. And however important it may be to earn our daily bread, we are also told to take nothing for the journey, to travel light, to rely on and trust in the providence of God above all.
Yes, when we go running around, it’s easy to get lost. What to do when this happens?
Thankfully, as there was for me in my childhood, there is also for us an information booth where we can find help. This is not so much a place as it is a grace. It is the grace of remembering who we are. It is the grace that Saint Ignatius speaks about in the first week of the Spiritual Exercises, the same grace that we find in Ezra the prophet in the first reading. It is the grace of knowing, on the one hand, that we are sinners, that our guilt reaches up to heaven. And yet, on the other hand, it is also the grace of realizing that mercy has come to us from the Lord our God, who has given us new life. Whenever we find ourselves in danger of getting lost, this is the grace for which we need to ask God. This is the information booth to which we need to return. Here, we can be reunited with our heavenly Father. Here, we can once again experience ourselves being sent out on mission, by the Son, in the power of the Spirit.
How much do you need the information booth today?