Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Seeing Christ in Everything

October 27, 2010
Wednesday of the 30th Week in Ordinary Time

By Colleen O’Sullivan

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother. This is the first commandment with a promise, that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life on earth. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up with the training and instruction of the Lord. Slaves, be obedient to your human masters with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ, not only when being watched, as currying favor, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, willingly serving the Lord and not men, knowing that each will be requited from the Lord for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. Masters, act in the same way towards them, and stop bullying, knowing that both they and you have a Master in heaven and that with him there is no partiality. (Ephesians 6:1-9)

Suscipe (St. Ignatius of Loyola)
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace.
That is enough for me.

Our reading today from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is a small part of a larger section of advice from the apostle on how to live as Christians on an everyday basis. In these verses, the apostle addresses fathers and children as well as slaves and masters. Children should honor their parents and obey them. Fathers should bring their children up to know the Lord and his teachings and do so in a manner that doesn’t incite their children to anger. All advice that we should heed today in family relationships.

But what about his words to slaves and masters? After having fought a bloody civil war almost 150 years ago in this country which resulted in slavery being abolished here, St. Paul’s words on the subject sound somewhat shocking to our ears. “Slaves, be obedient to your human masters…” However, we need to take into account that this letter was written in the first century and that, at that time, slavery was an entrenched institution throughout the Roman Empire. More importantly, the apostle enjoins both slaves and masters to go about their business as “slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, willingly serving the Lord and not men.”

I think St. Paul is telling us that no matter what our station in life, the important thing is to live in Christ, to be aware of God’s presence in every aspect and moment of your life. In my Cursillo group, we are reading The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything by James Martin, S.J. In the book, the author relates the story of the life of one of the Jesuit saints, St. Alphonsus Rodriguez (1532-1617). He was a Jesuit brother “who for forty-six years served at the Jesuit college in Majorca, Spain, in the humble job of a porter, or doorkeeper.” He was responsible for ushering in visitors, finding the students they wanted to visit, taking messages, giving alms when requested, etc. The remarkable thing is that he was always looking for God in every moment of that humdrum job. He prayed, “’Lord let me know you. And let me know myself.’” Whenever the doorbell rang, he imagined “that it was God himself who was standing outside seeking entrance. On his way, he would say, ‘I’m coming, Lord!”’ (p. 100)

I wish I could say that I am as conscious of God’s presence at every moment as St. Alphonsus was. Certainly when I’m at Mass or meeting with my Cursillo group or praying, I’m aware of God’s presence. But what about when I’m taking out the garbage, unloading the dishwasher, listening to a co-worker, writing a report or answering my phone at work? Imagine how different my life would be if I really did see Christ in everything!

Take a few moments to reflect on your day. When you interacted with your spouse or your children this morning, were you conscious of Christ’s presence? What about when you were driving to work on the Beltway or I-66 or when you were riding the Metro? Think of all the ordinary things you do every day and reflect on how extraordinarily wonderful your life could be if you could feel Christ’s presence in every aspect of it!

If you’re looking for a good book to read on finding God in every aspect of your life, I strongly recommend The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything.