23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time – 8th September
Planning is an essential part of life. It calls us to seek out a vision which inspires us into action and also to review the place from which we begin the journey. Nobody starts life from ground zero even when we have the desire to make all things new. We are formed not only by our own development but also by the history and the community in which we live. Our relationships are created by recognising that we are living stones, not dead weight which is the burden of our circumstances. We start to recognise that what we build on is not just an infrastructure created by an institution but a living hope to encounter what we most value in our community.
Yet as Christians we are more than bricks and mortar. We are called to recognise that we are flesh and blood. This is essential if we are to live the Christian life. It is always too easy to focus on the material and tangible outcomes rather than on who we seek to become as disciples. We notice this even in our Churches and related institutions where the first order of business is given to finances, policies and procedures. These are all necessary but they should flow from whom we seek to become rather than consuming the majority of our energy. They should seek to be tools not masters of our destiny. The first order of business which Jesus addresses to his disciples and then Paul addresses to Philemon is the desire to surrender all to Christ. This is the sense of being available and directed by the spirit of God in all things.
Yet, in seeking to discern where we are led, we grapple with the reality of our own humanity. We seek a pearl of practical wisdom which sees dimly the glory of God in our daily lives. God works with us not against us in making the first step from what we know about ourselves and what we know about others. It is this relational aspect which helps us to see our life as a gift which is to be lived for God and for others. Our lives are not formed solely by our own works but rather by how those works reveal the fundamental life-giving relationship which is their source. People are formed by this relationship rather than carefully prepared programs or projects which we can initiate out of our own desires. God calls us to seek together that which leads to peace in our own hearts and the hearts of our community. What God seeks is for us to surrender our whole selves in the service of the Kingdom. This should be the foundation on which we build which is the living heartbeat of God and the way our lives echo that rhythm in our own lives.
Fr. John Armstrong