June 28, 2011
Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, bishop and martyr
By Beth DeCristofaro
As dawn was breaking, the angels urged Lot on, saying, “On your way! Take with you your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of Sodom.” When he hesitated, the men, by the LORD’s mercy, seized his hand and the hands of his wife and his two daughters and led them to safety outside the city. (Genesis 19:15-16)
They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. (Matthew 8:25-26)
God, you gave me free will. May I be open to the Spirit enlivening my deepest desires toward what is good, towards You. May the Spirit always surround and keep me afloat. (adapted from http://www.sacredspace.ie/dailyprayer/index.php?lang=en&d=28&m=06&y=2011#freedom)
How often I resist the nudging of the Spirit. For example, when it’s been one of those days at work and a call comes with a “can you do this for me? It has to be done today…” request. My initial reaction is often irritation. “If we were only staffed at the correct level”… or “Why does your hurry have to effect me?” I think. Or when at home the dishwasher has not been started…again. And there is no clean silverware or dishes for breakfast…
So I get pretty irritated at Lot. There is he, being visited by angels no less and he hesitates to follow their lead. Angels! Hmm, would I be as quick and glad to jump as I imagine that I would? After all, God has been very evident in my life leading me to a wonderful vocation and good colleagues. And God has given me a healthy, caring family and many blessings including that luxurious dishwasher. Somehow I think I might stand there arguing at angels too: “Are you sure?” “Wait, I can’t go that far, let me just go here instead, is that alright?” In today’s readings I see God whose infinite mercy puts up with and delivers Lot even if I might have lost patience and stalked out.
And then there are fears such as those experienced by the disciples in the boat. We are surrounded by fear today – war, torture, unemployment, tension between political allies, foreclosures. And many of us are beset by internal fears. There is a truth to Lot’s words that holds even today: But I cannot flee to the hills to keep the disaster from overtaking me, and so I shall die. (Genesis 19:19) God’s grace calms the winds and the sea of our struggles. Finding myself in an earthquake rumbling of irritation, awash in threatening waves of frustration, fear, illness, or failure, Jesus invites me to call upon him to face down those disturbances with His Spirit holding me up.
Take a few moments to listen to someone who is hurting, troubled, fearful, frustrated. Don’t try to fix them, just listen. Keep her/him in prayer and commend her/him to the enlivening safety of the Holy Spirit.