We are always in partnership with God and others. Embracing life in any other way sets up a false context. We can act like we’re not brothers and sisters, but the consequences are devastating. We can act like God is our last resort rather than our partner, but that always leads to regret. Doing what God wants us to do in community with others means we have to finish what we start.
Most impulsive choices are made out of fashion or passion, not out of great priorities or forethought. Impulse buying and actions aren’t usually grounded in values or a sense of consequences. The Scripture readings for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time remind us that taking time to think and pray about what we are doing will help us bring it to completion.
Prayer, in which we acknowledge our partnership with God and one another, is a great place to start with planning for the future. We know that we don’t control all the details of the world or our lives, but we do know that we have much authority within ourselves. Even though we’re tempted to scapegoat others for our problems or circumstances, we realize that much of what happens in our lives has to do with our choices. Taking the time to pray at the beginning of every day allows God to have a voice in what we think needs to happen. Allowing our mind and heart to be present to God will help us see the bigger picture and allow ourselves to set the proper priorities. Prayer and surrender allow us to see what is within our control and what is not. It also helps us to see more clearly what it will take to do what is being asked of us. Out of that meditation and prayer come moral priorities that lead us in the right direction. Our relationship with God also gives us the virtue that we need to be steadfast and faithful in our commitments and plans. It gives us the space to allow God to complete the good work that He has begun in all of us.
The foundation of prayer and relationship with God and one another helps us to sustain the commitments we have made through love and suffering. It allows us to embrace the deepest experiences of love and suffering, which crack open in each of us a deeper sense of God’s presence, our wholeness and the life of God that surrounds us.
Living in this moment in the presence of God, not the past or the future, allows us to focus on what is needed instead of being overwhelmed by the anticipation of the future or being paralyzed by the regrets the past. What allows us to remain steadfast and faithful is the anchor of God’s eternal and unconditional love for each of us. That anchor allows us to endure the storms and suffering and take in the joys and love. That unconditional love helps usshed any arrogance or supposed self-sufficiency and recognize our right relationship with God and one another.
The combination of our own earthly wisdom and God’s divine wisdom is a mighty combination. It allows us to believe and act on the belief that we can make a difference in the world that brings about the kingdom of God. It helps us to believe in and experience the Real Presence of Christ in the experiences of suffering and dying. These experiences come in part through our regular lives and through the daily resurrections. Let us be faithful to one another and to God so that we can sustain the great work that Jesus began here on earth. May we each be reflections of sustaining hope and renewing joy.
Father Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.