Saturday, September 24, 2016

Pay Attention

Rejoice, O young man, while you are young and let your heart be glad in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart, the vision of your eyes; Yet understand that as regards all this God will bring you to judgment. Ward off grief from your heart and put away trouble from your presence, though the dawn of youth is fleeting.  Ecclesiastes 11:9-10

“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 so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying. Luke 9:44-45

Gratitude, not fear, is the foundation of our relationship with God. Help us, Father, to walk through our day in Your holy presence and note its joys and delights. Help us to pay attention to small things—the food we eat, the sights we see, and other seemingly small pleasures. God, help us to find you in the details we might otherwise miss.

In this post-Transfiguration scene, Jesus has just completed one of his more miraculous signs in the New Testament.  He cured the boy who was possessed by a demon. After that sign was performed, Luke tells us that everyone was “astonished” and “amazed.” Into this mix, Jesus then introduces the second prediction of his Passion and Death. 

While all around Jesus understood the healing sign, they had no way to understand what the death of Jesus would accomplish.  Amid the exaltation, Jesus tells his disciples for the second time that he is about to be betrayed.  Luke explains that the meaning of this prediction is hidden from them.  Step by step, as they approach Jerusalem, the relationship between Jesus and his closest friends is changing. The fear that they must feel with this news is added to the fear that keeps everyone from talking about it further. 

The path of Jesus will diverge from the path of the political leaders and the leaders of the Church. Jesus is the true beacon not to be confused with others who lead down the wrong path – even if we are afraid of His message. It is easy to follow when there are miracles and all is going well.  But the easy will change. Going out on his raft means we leave the safety of the shore.

Both readings today contain warnings that the comfortable zone that we are in will change. Youth will give way to the infirmities of age.  The relationship will give way to betrayal.  The dawn of youth is fleeting.

We have warning signs all around us. Many are concerned about the election.  Some favor one candidate or party.  Others favor the other.  Maybe we would like to project our faith onto our favored leader and predict gloom and doom if the “other” wins.  However, neither of the major candidates presents a platform in total synch with our Catholic credo.

I think this article from The Atlantic Monthly ( sums up the Catholic voter’s dilemma quite well.  Neither political party fills ALL the requirements of a faithful Catholic and the seamless garment of Life that Christ would wear. There are accommodations we must make in our conscience on either side.  The author, Emma Green, details the compromises on both sides using the life stories of both Governor-Senator Kaine and Governor Pence to illustrate the points.  All sides are right some of the time and all sides are not right all of the time. I particularly like the last two paragraphs that point out there is no easy answer:
  • “If we want a society in which public policy defends the life and dignity of all, supports marriage and family, promotes the common good, recognizes objective right and wrong and religious freedom, personally and institutionally, then of course the Church must be involved,” wrote Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, in a recent editorial for the Catholic Standard, an online publication of the Church. “Especially, the lay faithful must speak out and become ‘salt and light’ in our democracy,” Chaput said something similar in his speech at Notre Dame. “Christians are not of the world, but we’re most definitely in it,” he said. “Augustine would say that our home is the City of God, but we get there by passing through the City of Man. While we’re on the road, we have a duty to leave the world better than we found it. One of the ways we do that, however imperfectly, is through politics.”
  • Augustine seems to have the right lesson for Catholics in American public life: There’s probably never going to be a this-worldly system that perfectly fits a Catholic interpretation of the gospel. So for all those Catholic voters whose views leave them feeling at odds with the American politics—pro-life Democrats, for example, or pro-immigration Republicans—a friendly bishop has some advice. “Imagine, as you’re standing in the voting booth, that Christ is beside you,” said McElroy. “And ask yourself, facing this candidate or that candidate, ‘Who do I think, in the end, Christ would be for?’”

I have always loved how Cursillo brings together people from differing viewpoints who can agree that we will lead lives of piety, study, and action in whatever ways out consciences allow – knowing that in the end when we stand alone in front of St. Peter or Jesus or God the Father, we will have to account for how we and our faithful conscience have put merciful love into action. 

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