Fr John’s Reflection 21st Sunday of the Year

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time – 25th August

Where are you coming from?

Whenever we meet a new person often the first questions reflect what we consider important about life. Hence the most universal questions in the western world are what do you do and where do come from? What quickly follows are incidental questions about where do they live and more specific questions about their family, education and their interests. These all help us to gain an understanding of what forms the background of the person. Yet what they do not tell us is who they are and what they think. These more intimate questions come as we build trust with the person and cause us to engage with them in a way which is not just a collection of facts. We are called to experience who they are and what forms them to be the person they are.

In a similar way, our understanding of the person cannot just be engaged from a textbook or someone else’s reflection on their life. No matter how deep the insight, we are called to recognise that what intrigues us about the person cannot be learnt by hearsay or by second-hand reflection by another. This is especially important when we encounter the person of Jesus in prayer. He needs to meet us as a real person, we are called day by day to set aside time for us to be with him and to discover the ways in which he is present to us. This calls us to make a priority for this reflective time which we are called to consider as central to our Christian life. This is not just about finding the “right” method of prayer but rather a heart to heart meeting of what we consider central to who we are. We need to discover what satisfies and sustains us in a relationship which is pivotal to who we are called to become. By discovering this place of self-knowledge we encounter God who motivates us and sustains us. 

This is where we need to discover the language in which God most easily communicates with us. What moves us into action and helps us to understand the universal call to respond to the Good News. By pondering on how we are in daily life and reflecting on what brings us life we move closer to God’s purpose and mission. This is not just engaged with as isolated individuals but as a communion which enables us to be drawn into solidarity of faith. It builds on a tradition which is ever ancient and ever new. The life-giving spirit which in every age challenges us to be faithful to the Word that dwells within us. Each day we are called to become more the person God has loved into being by reflecting that love in our prayer, study and action. In this way, our life becomes centred on God who seeks to draw us closer. This mystery is not just a one-way street but rather a pilgrimage where we discover who we are. As we walk by the way we discover the person who walks close by our side and helps us to notice who we truly are.

Fr. John Armstrong