22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – 30th August
The Gospel of this weekend reflects how just as Peter recognised who Jesus was, he wanted to dictate how his ministry should unfold. We can notice this in our own prayer where we try to set the agenda and then assess how God matches up to our own criteria. What we discover is that God’s vision is often broader and more inclusive than our own. It is not that God is inattentive but rather that he plants within us a desire for love and peace which calls us to take risks to move out beyond ourselves. Our religion is not called to be neatly contained by our own interests but rather responsive to God’s initiative to lead us out on a mission.
During this time of enforced isolation, we can start to notice that what truly brings life works to a different rhythm. God seeks to guide us to find what leads to our true human flourishing which seeks the goodness of God in our own environment. Rather than concentrating on the problems we face and the difficulties that surround us, we become more open to seeking a more compassionate and hopeful response. This does not remove us from the challenges that we all experience but it does help us to view them differently. It calls us to be people of practical wisdom who notice how God is present in our everyday responses.
Our life is called to be one which builds bridges so that we can encounter others, not destroy them. This is especially true in our own world where noticing differences does not cause us to dwell on divisions but rather on what sustains life. In a world which seems to focus on the fear of our own mortality or even promotes a “me-first” culture, we become more open to the universal call to be present. This recognises that each country and indeed every person is formed with a particular culture. Yet this is not to exclude others but to recognise the gifts that we bring to the table. As we listen to the voice of God in this time may we dwell on what unites us and sustains us in hope.
Fr. John Armstrong