Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Who Sets Your Agenda?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

By Colleen O’Sullivan

Therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God to expiate the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested. (Hebrews 2:17-18)

Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee. (Mark 1:35-39)

Glory in his holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord! Look to the Lord in his strength; seek to serve him constantly. (Psalm 105: 3-4)

My friends and family who live outside this metropolitan area never cease to be amazed at the busyness of life around the Beltway. They find it hard to believe that when my alarm goes off at 5:20 a.m. and I listen to the traffic and weather on WTOP, there are often already accidents and traffic jams being reported. They think I’m nuts to get up early on Saturday morning and meet with my Cursillo group at 7:30. How many people show up at that early hour, they want to know, as if I must be one of the few people in the world out and about at that time. They’d be surprised if they could see how busy the McDonalds is where we meet and how many people are already out and on the road, starting their weekend errands.

Even I sometimes find all the activity overwhelming and I don’t even have kids! My friends with children are forever busy making sure homework gets done, helping with school projects, taking their kids to Girl/Boy Scouts, swimming lessons, CCD, sports practices and games, birthday parties…

In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with being busy. Jesus himself was a very busy person. In the readings from Mark’s Gospel for yesterday and today, we are presented with a picture of a day in his life. Yesterday, we read about his preaching in the synagogue at Capernaum on the Sabbath. He not only preached with authority, astounding the congregation, he even stopped in the middle of what he was saying to command an unclean spirit to leave a tormented man in the congregation.

In today’s reading, once the synagogue service is over, Jesus goes with Simon and Andrew to their house, accompanied by James and John. Here Jesus is told that Simon’s mother-in-law is sick in bed with a fever. Jesus takes her hand and helps her up. She is healed. The fever leaves her and she is able to serve her guests.

That already sounds like a fairly full day to me, but after the sun goes down and the Sabbath officially ends, all the townspeople show up at Simon and Andrew’s house, bringing the sick and possessed of the village for Jesus’ healing touch!

Jesus still isn’t done. After a day of preaching and healing, he gets a little sleep, but is back up again before dawn. He goes off by himself to pray. And here we discover who determines the agenda for his activity. Jesus spends his prayer time listening to what God wants him to do. And, as all of us know, God’s plans aren’t always our plans. Before long, Simon and others find the Lord. They think he should come back to Capernaum immediately, because everyone there is looking for Jesus. He’s the latest sensation! But Jesus has just spent this time in solitude with his Father. He’s got his agenda straight from God. He doesn’t argue with the disciples, but he knows this isn’t what God wants him to do. So, instead, he says, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.”

There’s nothing wrong with being busy as long as we’re busy with the right things, following God’s agenda and not our own or somebody else’s. But we’ll never know if we’re on the right path as we squeeze onto the Metro or sit in traffic, hurrying to the day’s activities, unless we find that quiet time with the Lord. Not just a time when we talk to God, but a time when we listen for his direction for our lives.

Who sets your agenda? Think back over the past few days. Were you just rushing from one activity to the next, exhausting yourself, or were you busy fulfilling God’s plan for your day? Tomorrow morning, after your alarm goes off, spend a few minutes with the Lord, asking him what it is he has for you to do this day and then listen for his answer or, if you’re not a morning person, do it before you go to sleep.

This past summer I heard a homily about going in for a check-up of your spiritual life. The priest talked about how we go to the doctor every year for a physical. He suggested that we do the same for our spiritual lives, find a spiritual director to talk with to see if we’re spiritually fit. That’s also a good way to see who sets your agenda.