Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pay Attention

September 24, 2011

Saturday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

"But I will be for her an encircling wall of fire, says the LORD, and I will be the glory in her midst." Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD. Zechariah 2:9, 14

"Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men." But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them and they were afraid to ask him about this saying. Luke 9:44-45


Listen carefully to my instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from one who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice. The labor of obedience will bring you back to one from whom you had drifted through the sloth of disobedience. This message of mine is for you, then, if you are ready to give up your own will, once and for all, and armed with the strong and noble weapons of obedience to do battle for Jesus, the Christ. (Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue.)


Everyone and every organization is vying for our attention. Messages bombard us daily, hourly, minute-by-minute (including Your Daily Tripod).

Some are absolutely essential to our health and safety. Speed Limit signs. Stop signs. Traffic lights. Health warnings on food, tobacco, alcohol, nuts and more. The Five Man Electric Band reminded us, "Do this! Don't do that! Can't you read the sign?"

Some messages are solely commercial but try to get us to think that they are absolutely essential. Fly this airline over that airline. Shop at that store rather than this store. Buy these shoes rather than those shoes. They want us -- or our vanity -- to think that these are absolutely essential. After all, don't you really need another denim jacket by Levi's or three suits from Jos. A. Bank?

Yet Jesus flags his message to us with a special prefix to get our attention. He could have said, "Pay attention" every time he opened his mouth to preach and teach. The Pslamist warned us long ago to pay attention and be open to the Word. "If you hear His voice, harden not your hearts." Yet today, Jesus issued a new message -- telling the disciples in advance what was going to happen to Him and to them. They did not understand from their vantage point. We, thanks to the passage and fullness of time, have the gift of hindsight and the Gospels.


How can we cut out some of the message clutter in our lives so that we can focus on what is truly important? In today's society, it would be near impossible to go cold turkey on advertising. It is so pervasive that ads even hang in rest rooms and waiting rooms. Yet perhaps we could limit our exposure to some by turning off the television or radio for 20 minutes when it would have been blaring.

If you can't turn it off, perhaps you can select something related to your Cursillo method that will stream through your ear buds…maybe an audio book by Fr. Richard Rohr can get loaded on the iPod. Maybe the audio version of the daily readings can fill some of that void Or you can find the readings on iTunes.under "Daily readings from the New American Bible."

However you approach the Word, pay attention. Don't get distracted by the trivial and commercial. Harden not your hearts.