Monday, November 13, 2006

32nd Monday in Ordinary Time (II)

Readings: Titus 1:1-9; Psalm 24:1b-2, 3-4ab, 5-6; Luke 17:1-6

It may be possible to approach our readings today as one might an advertisement for a job vacancy. After all, they do present us with a list of desirable characteristics, don’t they? Paul’s letter to Titus contains qualities to look for in an elder: not married more than once… irreproachable… not arrogant or hot-tempered… nor out to make money… hospitable… have a firm grasp… of the tradition… And in the gospel, Jesus gives his disciples several dos and don’ts: don’t place obstacles before these little ones, forgive, have faith.

While sometimes useful, such an approach can also be something of a hindrance, an obstacle in our spiritual quest. We might, for example, be too focused on the extent to which we measure up, and then either become arrogant (if we feel we do) or depressed (if we feel we don’t and can’t). Perhaps what is more important is to remember how Paul begins his letter. Not so much with a list of his own personal qualities but with the mission that has been given him, the message that God has called him to proclaim. He refers to himself as an apostle, someone sent by God to proclaim to others the hope of the eternal life that was promised so long ago by God, who does not lie.

Might this not present us with a more accurate picture of how we are called? Not so much through a strict evaluation of whether or not we make the grade, but rather through a gracious proclamation of hope. A proclamation so powerful that when we truly believe it, when we put our faith in it -- yes, even faith the size of a mustard seed -- and when we, in our turn, proclaim it to others, a radical transformation begins, through which we are molded into the kind of people who, with clean hands and pure heart, can fruitfully seek the face of the God of Jacob.

How is the God who does not lie purifying us in faith and hope today?

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