Saturday, November 17, 2012


33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Resting Where We Wake Up Safe

Readings: Daniel 12:1-3; Psalm 15:5,8-11; Hebrews 10:11-14,18; Mark 13:24-32
Picture: cc Tobyotter

Sisters and brothers, where were you when you awoke from sleep this morning? Where did you find yourself? How did you feel? What did you see? Very likely, most of us awoke to find ourselves nestled in the comfort of our own beds. Perhaps cuddling a pillow or two. Enjoying the delightful combination of coolness and warmth between our sheets. Gradually rousing ourselves from the misty shadows of sleep into the brightening dawn of wakefulness. And, most probably, when we did finally open our eyes, we were greeted by the sight of safe and familiar surroundings. Nothing surprising to alarm us. Nothing unpleasant to disturb us. Nothing scary to frighten us...

But not everyone wakes up like this. At least not all the time. There are also people who are sometimes jolted into consciousness to find themselves in very uncomfortable places. Very embarrassing, even painful, positions. And I don't mean people who live in war zones. Or those who are too poor to afford a roof over their heads. Some of us may have seen the photographs recently posted on a local news website. Pictures of people who had a little too much to drink. Well, actually, much more than a little. I believe the technical term is wasted. One picture shows a person lying unconscious on the floor of an MRT train. A trail of his own urine behind him. Another is a picture of someone passed out on a toilet seat. His pants pulled down to his knees. I think you get the general idea...

Some people wake up well. And others don’t. Some of us awaken feeling safe and secure. Others, hungover and humiliated. And we know the reason for the difference, don’t we? How we rise to wakefulness is often determined by where we choose to lie down to rest. Unless someone else moves us, if we fall asleep in our beds, that’s where we’ll find ourselves when we wake up. But, to be fair, no one really chooses to spend the night on the floor of an MRT train. Much less soaking in a pool or urine, or naked on a toilet seat. People end up in such uncomfortable places, only because they try to find rest somewhere else. Not in any particular physical location. But in the delightful mental and emotional bliss brought on by intoxication. They choose to find rest in the pleasures of drink. And, as we all know very well, this is a feeling that does not last. Unlike a cosy bed, which supports us throughout the night and into the morning, the high we get from the mouth of a bottle very quickly abandons us. Leaves us stranded. Often in the strangest and most embarrassing of places.

For many of us, how we awaken depends upon where we choose to find rest. This too is the lesson that our Mass readings are trying to teach us on this second to last Sunday of Ordinary Time. Next week, as you know, we will celebrate the Solemn Feast of Christ the King. As we ready ourselves for the end of the Church’s liturgical year, our Mass readings invite us to carefully prepare ourselves for the end of time. But what will the end of time look like? The first reading describes it in terms of people waking up from sleep. There is going to be a time of great distress, we are told. And, of those who lie sleeping in the dust of the earth, many will awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting disgrace. Not just in our own day, but even at the end of time, some people will wake up well, and others very poorly. Some will find safety. Others disgrace.

And what makes all the difference is where people choose to find rest. Disgrace is found by those who seek refuge only in passing things. Things that do not last. Things like material wealth and success. Or popularity and good looks. Fast cars and faster computers. Big houses and bigger egos. In time, like the high that comes from a few stiff drinks, all these things will pass away. And not just these things. In the gospel, Jesus goes so far as to say that even heaven and earth will pass away. Everything about this fleeting life will eventually be no more. Even this beautiful church of ours, in which we take such pride. There will come a time when it will no longer be here. But, if this is true, where then are we to seek rest? How then are we to find safety when we finally wake up from sleep?

The responsorial psalm provides the answer. I keep the Lord ever in my sight, the psalmist declares. Since he is at my right hand, I shall stand firm. And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad; even my body shall rest in safety. The only truly restful space, the only ultimately safe place, is to be found in God alone. More specifically, we really only arrive at true safety when we rest in Christ Jesus our Lord. For, as he tells us in the gospel, although heaven and earth will pass away, my words will not pass away. And the second reading explains why this is so. For unlike the ineffective sacrifices offered by the priests of the Old Covenant, Jesus has offered himself in one single sacrifice, by virtue of which he has achieved the eternal perfection of all whom he is sanctifying. Of you and of me. The Lord’s words do not pass away, because they are not mere words. They are matched by his single act of undying love. The selfless sacrifice of the eternal Word of God on the rugged wood of the cruel Cross.

The Cross of Christ. For us who are Christian, to find safety is to seek rest nowhere else than at this most uncomfortable place. But how do we know, sisters and brothers, where exactly it is we are seeking our rest? One way to find out is, of course, to ask ourselves what are the things we do not have, but for which we crave? Or what are the things that we do have, and to which we cling? Consider our cravings and our clingings. What are they? Are they truly enduring things? Or are they, like everything else apart from God, doomed eventually to pass away? Another way is to pay attention to our reactions to trials and temptations, to failures and setbacks. When we encounter such unpleasant experiences, what do we do? Do we allow our anger and disappointment to get the better of us? Even to turn us away from following the Lord? Or do we use such experiences as opportunities to accompany our Blessed Mother, as she stands at the foot of the Cross, gazing upon the bruised and bloodied face of her dying glorious Son?

Sisters and brothers, the same holds true in the spiritual life as in the material. How we awaken often depends upon where we seek our rest.

Where are you seeking your rest today?

8 comments:

  1. I would not use the word "rest" but rather "escape". It is easier to escape our troubles by drowning our sorrows in drink or work. Instead of facing up to what's really bothering us, we numb ourselves with alcohol or work. It's not resting, but running away.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Our hearts are restless until they REST in God - as St Augustine had aptly described.

    Hence, RESTing in God is appropriate in this context and "escape" would mean something different....

    Depending on our understanding of what REST means - RESTing can be something positive - as resting in God can bring about spiritual growth as we learn to let go into God as God INCREASES as we decrease.

    When we have a personal relationship with God, we will want to spend time with our God - hence, RESTing in God is also a time of grace - as we learn to surrender and let go of all our preoccupations, cares and problems into a God who is our help, our salvation and HE has all the answers to our life's problems.

    Let us then learn to REST in God and let God be God in our lives.

    Pax et Bonum

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Our Hearts are restless until they rest in YOU"
    My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
    and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
    When I think of You on my bed,
    and meditate on You in the watches of the night;
    for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
    My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

    When I am tired and getting weary of things happening around me, I silenced myself first, and prayed silently to God, to provide me with strength, courage and peace to face the situation during the day, before bed and in the morning; and a thanksgiving prayer for the graces I have received.

    Peace

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  4. " Nada te turbe; nada te espante;
    todo se pasa; Dios no se muda,
    la paciencia todo lo alcanza.
    Quien a Dios tiene,
    nada le falta.
    Solo Dios basta."

    & the English translation of Teresa's prayer as follows:

    May nothing disturb you.
    May nothing astonish you.
    Everything passes.
    God does not go away.
    Patience can attain anything.
    He who has God within,
    does not lack anything.
    God is enough!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very nice prayer. Thanks for sharing

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    2. What a wonderful prayer! Thank you!

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    3. What a wunderful prayer. Every line invites to meditate. Thsnk you!

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  5. Deo Gratias.

    Thanks be to God and to St Teresa of Avila for this is her prayer.


    Peace & All Good

    ReplyDelete

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