Saturday, October 13, 2007

Saturday in the 27th Week of Ordinary Time (I)

Readings: Joel 4:12-21; Psalm 97:1-2, 5-6, 11-12; Luke 11:27-28

One of the jokes that we’ve been sharing among ourselves since returning from Navotas has been that we miss the processions. There’s more than a tinge of sarcasm in this statement. During our time there, we used to meet for Mass with the people every evening. And after Mass, without fail, we would be expected to follow the people as they walked through the streets in procession from one neighbourhood chapel to the next, reverently carrying an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in front of them. Never mind if it was raining. Never mind if the streets were flooded. Never mind if we had to dodge traffic and other less savoury objects along the way. Every evening, we walked through the streets together, sometimes singing and sometimes quiet, sometimes holding candles and sometimes in darkness. No, I think I can probably speak for my companions, even the most pious among us, when I say that the processions are probably among the things we miss least in Navotas.

And yet, this six-month program in which my companions and I find ourselves is also something of a procession. It involves quite a bit of moving around. We have just returned from Navotas, and in a week’s time we will be out again. And not only are we moving in space but we are also moving in time. We have been reflecting on and sharing our own life histories. We have been rereading the life of our founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and recalling the beginnings of the Society of Jesus. Like it or not, this program is really one big procession (as is life). But what, we may wonder, is the point of all this moving around? Where, we might ask, is the destination of our procession?

The Mass readings offer us an answer to this question. They speak to us of a possible destination for all our moving around. They speak of a time that is not really a time, and of a place that is not really a place. This time is the day of the Lord. And this place is the valley of decision. This is that time and that place where God makes known to us what God wants. And it is also that time and place where we come face to face with the need to make a choice, to decide whether or not to do what God wants of us in each concrete situation of each passing day. It is that time and place that our founder Ignatius spoke about when he ended his letters, as he often did, with the following prayer: may God our Lord grant us his abundant grace so that we might know his most holy will and entirely to fulfill it…

Isn’t this the point of all our moving around? Isn’t this the destination of our procession? We are preparing our hearts, our minds, our wills to hear the word of God and keep it. For, as Jesus tells us in today’s gospel, it is those who do this who are blessed by God. And we know that those who receive this blessing do so in order to become blessings for others. It was so for Ignatius of Loyola, just as it was for Mary our blessed mother. Isn’t this why it is fitting that the people of Navotas carry Mary’s image with such reverence and piety? They hope for a blessing from the one who was blessed for receiving God’s most holy will and entirely fulfilling it in her life.

Where and how are you processing today?

1 comment:

  1. I lost focus while driving a few days ago and forgot where I was headed. Life is very much like that. With days jam packed with chores and activities, it is very easy to lose focus and the ability to "listen" out for God's will in the decisions we make and the things we do.

    There is impending change ahead of us as a family. Whatever the outcome may be, we can only pray that God's will be done and that it will place us in a better position to help those we know are in need.

    I know the journey may not always be smooth but the destination is one to look forward to.