Sunday 14 November 2021

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year B

Word for today
The Gospel of Mark 13:33-37

Stay awake!

Something is wrong.
There is something wrong with how we live. And it must be particularly dangerous to our interior and bodily health if we stop to  consider the state of pressure and tension that we are living in.
In the face of the many necessities and needs which condition a person's life, what does his/her way of living and of interacting with life and his/her fellow men depend on? The way a person lives depends absolutely and completely on how he/she believes, on how much he/she believes, and in what he/she deeply believes. Everything about a person depends on that. It is a predominant law.
An individual's mental and character makeup, over time even his/her physical appearance, his/her way of posturing him/herself and of choosing depend on a  basic fundamental nucleus. Every man is provided with a holy receptive "zone," almost inviolable from without, a decision-making "place" between the mind and the soul where an individual can decide consciously or unconsciously what he/she believes in and how deeply he/she believes in it. Lev in Hebrew is this decision-making heart. Atoms, molecules, cells, tissues, organs, as well as physical and psychic systems, everything obeys our lve. Of course the environment and pressures have an important role, but in the end everything "goes round" the way our lev goes round. It is the person's operation center. The heart can be the source of life if it decides in favor of God, the source of death if it  has faith only in itself. If a person is receptive, perceptive, open towards God, he/she has a watchful lev, otherwise his/her lev is drowsy. And a heart that is drowsy is not drowsy, it is dead.
What must a heart be open or receptive to? What must one believe in?
No one can answer that question for anyone else. And it makes no sense to answer this question with words coming from our mouth. What we believe in our heart becomes powerfully and unmistakably apparent in how we live, our choices, our actions, our thoughts, the tone of our voice, our gestures. It is inevitable.
It is not words that express what our heart believes, it is our heart that that expresses what we believe in.
And what does our life say?
It says that we often believe backwards. Yes, we believe, but we believe that we ourselves are god. In the very same moment that we say we believe in God, we live, think, organize our life separated from him and acting as if He did not exist.
We believe upside down or backwards. It is like believing that the sun is connected to the shadow, and that the shadow, from its curious, pleasant position, can say to the sun "get away from me; I can't stand having you around" without immediately disappearing from itself and from life.
In Holy Law what is mortal in man and under the dominion of deadly sleep is called basar, flesh, underlining its tendency to caducity and decay. There is no marked  philosophical or moral distinction betweeen good and bad, between right and wrong. There is simply the distinction between what is mortal and what is vital.  There is no earthly realty that is naturally bad and no angelic reality that is naturally good. What is distant from God, that which separates us from him is basar, death, mortal, not vital, be it a visible or invisible  creature, angel or man. We think the exact opposite, we think the other way around, we are more fearful and respectful of human laws than we are of God's. We are awed more by science than by creation, we are more fascinated by human success stories than by the power of nature, we applaud men and give more glory to them than to the face of  God and to His all powerfulness. The thought of being abandoned by someone we care about frightens us more than the idea of losing God's light. We have been teaching human things, human thoughts, human logic for centuries, all that time completely ignoring the need to know the thoughts, the words, the wisdom of God and the laws He wrote into existence. We live in conflict with ourselves for decades before we are able to leave our home, our original family and the habits and outlooks we have acquired, but we have no problem,  in the time that it takes to blink an eye, with abandoning God the Father and His way, the dimension of the Spirit. We are capable of unheard of sacrifices to earn a fraction of a section in a race we are running to keep fit, but we are incapable of fighting injustice in name of our love for God. We hasten to fashion shows and soccer games, but we do assemble with the same deployment of forces and enthusiasm to sing and to give glory to God's name. The means of information tell us all about human incidents and the evil that is exchanged every day, but they never say anything about what God does for us every day, or rather, every second. Thousands gather in the squares to honor and to listen to politicians, kings, and actors, but the sun that God lifts up every day does not receive the same attention and honor, nor does God's majesty receive chants of glory or the bowing of heads. We are happier if our son/daughter thinks the way we do rather than according to God's heart. Our life insurance gives us a greater sense of security than the certainty of God's protection. Our bank account gives us more tranquility than God's providence. We believe, but we believe that we are God. This is wrong and very dangerous both to those who say they believe in God  as well as to those who say they do not. Life is a great thing, a very great thing. Jesus told us that with a parable.
It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. The Father has entrusted his possessions, his boundless, splendid, marvelous treasures to us and He has entrusted His house to us. He has entrusted each man with a particular, unique job. If you think about it, it's enough to gives you goosebumps. No one is born by chance. God has given each one of us in a time, in a context, gifts and capacities for a mission, a job, a calling which is nonetheless  subject to persecutions and daily crosses. The gatekeeper was ordered to be on watch. The church, the community of believers, has been ordered by God to watch, to stay awake to defend a dispersed and confused humanity. The Father ordered the community of believers to act as gatekeepers of history, sentinels of the peoples, to prevent the Evil one from coming in and going out at his pleasure. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. The Lord will return, no one knows when, but He will return and we should think about it more often if we want to realize more deeply what the adventure of life is all about. Watch, therefore...May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. Christ's believers cannot fall asleep, they cannot abandon their role as sentinels of history, they cannot be silent in the face of evil and injustice, they cannot fall asleep on the cushions of comfortable priviledges and relaxing compromises. What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!  Jesus is quite clear in this respect: What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch! The job of watching, of not falling asleep in comfortable, prestigious cushions, in the silence of conspiracy: It is a command  for everyone, for everyone who believes in life. We must pray incessantly without ever becoming tired in order to stay awake.  Prayer makes us wise, silence before God "awakens" the mind and reinforces it more than anything else in the world, it hones the heart to recognize love.