Reflections on the Gospel

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

There are many things of which we can be afraid: being rebuked, rejection, anger, being challenged, having to defend ourselves, standing alone, insecurity, failure, and even death. For some, identifying and overcoming their fears is a daunting task. Regardless of how much they may want to break the cycle of fear, they find that they remain close friends with old and dysfunctional behavioral habits and norms. Maybe what they really fear is change. There are many who gravitate to the familiar and comfortable, and find safety and security in doing so, even if they remain mired in mediocrity. Human beings have to learn that there is life beyond the “what has always been” and that happiness and depth are possible when old structures and systems have to be left behind.

Can you leave the near and dear, the comfortable and familiar, the safe and secure, and discover new opportunities? The shear thought of doing so can bring on feelings of apprehension, intense anger, resentment, defensiveness, reluctance, resistance, and even apathy. If we have to be responsible for making the change, cowardice can creep in. If someone else is to blame for making the change, any number of possible negative reactions are possible. In the end, only one thing is required and that is God. If I can rely on and deepen my relationship with God, especially in the Eucharist along with a community of believers, then little else is of great concern. We have to figure out what is really important. It is not always what we think.

The Gospel calls us to stretch ourselves and try new things, not to remain stuck and stagnant in familiar ways. We are asked to live life more deliberately, radically, and intentionally. We are asked to leave the familiar behind and learn to live with changing, and often limiting, human structures. We cannot get too caught up in the physical, ideological, or structural systems we are used to. The Holy Spirit always leads and guides us. If we trust this, we will find ourselves doing things we never thought we could do. Always seek the path to joy and love. They keep us from falling victim to our fears and from seeking the nostalgic crutches we think we need to achieve a sense of well-being and happiness.