Thursday, September 04, 2008
Wednesday in the 22nd Week of Ordinary Time
Memorial of St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church
Settling the Upset Stomach
Readings: 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Psalms 33:12-13, 14-15, 20-21; Luke 4:38-44
Picture: CC Denise Soong
From time to time, even those of us with the strongest of constitutions experience a stomach upset. Whether it is caused by disagreeable cuisine, food poisoning, or something more serious, the condition affects our body’s ability to extract nourishment from all but the most easily digestible of foodstuffs. And, as long as it lasts, we often have no choice but to carefully watch what we eat. At least for a time, we may be reduced to a liquid diet, for example, or something simple (and bland) like rice porridge. And even though we could probably continue to survive on such a simple diet even after we’ve recovered, isn’t it true that many of us will look forward with great expectation to the time when we can, once again, enjoy more tasty fare – fish head curry, or beef rendang, or chili crab, for example?
Which is why it sometimes puzzles me that we don’t often experience the same cravings when it comes to spiritual nourishment. Isn’t it true that, as regards our spiritual diet, many of us seem only to be able to find sustenance in the most simple and obvious of sources? Finding God is a struggle for us, even in the most well-constructed and quietest of worship spaces, and during the most inspiring of liturgies, let alone the often chaotic situations of our daily lives? Could this be why many are increasingly finding themselves drawn towards more solemn liturgies – celebrations that tend to underscore the absolute transcendence of God?
This, in itself, is of course not a bad thing. I myself enjoy such celebrations. But isn’t it disturbing that there are those who tend to think – and to insist – that this is the only valid way of finding God, thus creating a bone of contention out of what should be a source of unity? Further, isn’t it also legitimate to examine the extent to which our participation in such celebrations helps us to continue finding God in the everyday? Isn’t it important that we learn to draw spiritual nourishment also from the more complex and diverse foods that God may choose to serve us outside of obviously sacred space and time? In the words of the first reading, shouldn’t we learn to appreciate more solid food? Shouldn’t this be the mark of a mature Christian?
But how do we do this? How do we get over the upset stomachs that prevent us from enjoying and drawing sustenance from more robust foods, and keep us at odds with one another? Perhaps what we need is what Peter’s mother-in-law received in today’s gospel. Perhaps we need the Lord himself to take us by the hand and to heal us of our infirmity, so that, like Jesus, we can find and serve God in the many and diverse situations and people that God may send our way.
How might God wish to settle our upset stomachs today?
Posted by Fr Chris at 1:00 am