Saturday, October 01, 2016

See What You See

Job answered the LORD and said: I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be hindered. I have dealt with great things that I do not understand; things too wonderful for me, which I cannot know. I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you. Therefore, I disown what I have said, and repent in dust and ashes. Job 42:1-3

Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”  Turning to the disciples in private he said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” Luke 10:23-24

"I will seek out a means of getting to Heaven by a little way—very short and very straight, a little way that is wholly new. We live in an age of inventions; nowadays the rich need not trouble to climb the stairs, they have lifts instead. Well, I mean to try and find a lift by which I may be raised unto God, for I am too tiny to climb the steep stairway of perfection. […] Thine Arms, then, O Jesus, are the lift which must raise me up even unto Heaven. To get there I need not grow; on the contrary, I must remain little, I must become still less.” (Le Petite Voie – The Little Way of Saint Thérèse)

Was Job the model for the Parable of the Prodigal Son?  Perhaps.  In his comments delivered directly to the Lord, Job publicly repents for his past indiscretions and is rewarded – not with a gold ring and a fatted calf – with “fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she-asses. And he had seven sons and three daughters.” Although Job’s descent was not self-inflicted, Job ultimately changed the direction in which he sought happiness. 

This same pivot is what Jesus is witnessing among his followers.  The disciples are returning from their mission and Jesus rejoices “in the Holy Spirit.”  The Spirit of the Lord which had been upon Jesus since his reading in the temple also is now upon the seventy-two.  No longer to they rely solely upon themselves.  They have returned – after taking nothing on the journey – and now know that the secrets of the Father are enough to carry them through their trials and triumphs just as Job changed.  Their salvation is not delivered because “the spirits are subject to [the disciples.]  Rather, Jesus tells them to “rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” 

Jesus is about to upend the law with his condensed set of Two Commandments and illustrate how those new rules are brought to life by the Good Samaritan.  But for now, Jesus is filled with joy at the return of the seventy-two.  He is jubilant that through the experience of mission – where the disciples deprived themselves of material goods – they have made the same progress toward repentance that we see in Job.

The moment and prayer of Thanksgiving that Jesus offers also once again illustrates a central theme we have seen develop in the readings from Luke this liturgical year: radical reversal. As Michael Card points out in Luke: The Gospel of Amazement:

[The theme of radical reversal] helps us to see why those who should don’t, while those who shouldn’t do.  It is because God wants it that way.  Jesus is almost singing, “You have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to infants…because this was Your good pleasure.”  This is an appropriate song coming from a man whose mother once sang, “He has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty” (Luke 1:53).  The world is being turned upside down because the Father wants it that way, and Jesus could not be more joyful at the prospect.  It is a rare moment of light on an otherwise dark journey to Jerusalem.

When has your world been turned upside down? Unemployment?  Illness?  The death of a loved one?  On this Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, we consider how our lives can be more child-like so that our trust in the arms of the Lord will lift us up no matter what the hardships are that we face.   

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