Thursday, October 26, 2006

29th Thursday in Ordinary Time (II)
Loving from Worse to Better

Readings: Ephesians 3:14-21; Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 11-12, 18-1; Luke 12:49-53

There’s a truth that many know but probably few find easy to accept. From the parent struggling with a rebellious child, to the doctor treating a seriously ill patient, to the economist managing an ailing national economy, experience bears out this truth: sometimes things have to get worse in order to get better. All the same, it’s not easy to let things get worse, is it?

Consider, for example, the parents who suddenly realize that their young adult child is becoming more religious. Not a bad thing, we might think, except that the interest is in a religion or denomination different from theirs. There is then a frantic seeking after solutions to the problem, a desperate attempt to stop the child from defecting, to keep the young person in the faith. This is quite natural and understandable. Who among us will feel nothing if this were to happen to us? Who among us will be impervious to the pain, anxiety, and even tinge of guilt that usually accompany such an eventuality?

And yet, isn’t it also true that what may at first seem to be a betrayal of or defection from the faith could really be a step forward, a sign of progress? Could it be, for example, that the faith that was there before – that of the child and perhaps even that of the parents – really has to die so that a deeper faith might emerge? These are difficult questions to ask let alone to answer. Much will depend on the circumstances in the concrete. Still, we might consider the possibility that such an apparently divisive experience is not unlike what Jesus talks about in today’s gospel. Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No… but rather division…

How then to face such situations of divinely-devised division? Where to find the wisdom to figure out what to do and the strength and courage to do it? The prayer in the first reading offers guidance. We return to the only true foundation, the deepest root of our faith, we pray to be planted in love and built on love… to know the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge… We bring our troubles to God and open ourselves to the Lord (who) fills the earth with his love. We pray for strength to continue to follow this Lord, even when the way leads through division in our very own household. All this because we cling to the hope that God’s power – the power of love – working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.

Indeed, sometimes things have to get worse in order to get better. And isn’t this especially true if one is in love – not just any love, but the love of God in Christ?

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