Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Be Astonished

January 11, 2011
Tuesday of the First Week In Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro

In “subjecting” all things to him, he left nothing not “subject to him.” Yet at present we do not see “all things subject to him,” but we do see Jesus “crowned with glory and honor” because he suffered death, he who “for a little while” was made “lower than the angels,” that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:8-9)

Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers, and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!” Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. (Mark 1:21-27)

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory,
my understanding, and my entire will.
All I have and call my own.
Whatever I have or hold, you have given me.
I return it all to you and surrender it wholly
to be governed by your will.
Give me only your love and your grace
and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.
St. Ignatius (from the end of the Spiritual Exercises)

There are several instances in the Gospels where unclean spirits recognize and call out to Jesus. In each instance, Jesus dispels the spirit from the person held captive by it. In ancient wisdom and folk lore, knowing someone’s true name gives a person power over that one. Not so for Jesus. The spirit knows Jesus’ true identity, recognizes him for what he was, but cannot command him. As Paul says in Hebrews: In “subjecting” all things to him, he left nothing not “subject to him.”

I wonder sometimes if I in my haste or distraction I tend to treat Jesus the same way as the spirit did. My prayer being more of a “here’s what I want from you now, God” than a real attempt to sit, listen and be with God for what God wants from me. After all, I love to have control over most things in my life.

It seems to me that if I would be more open to the astonishment which the people felt in the synagogue when Jesus preached. Somehow I think that having the control would be less important if I rather sought for the moments of God in my everyday life and the awareness of the holy. Rather to be ready to see God moments would put me in touch with the true authority of my life. Often, I live each day much the same way as I drive: fast, impatiently and focused on the destination rather than the present moment. God wants me now, not later.

It is only the now in which we find God. Stop, right now. Recall that you are in the presence of God. Give thanks. As wise teachers have said: be astonished.