Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tuesday word

18Tuesday, St. Dominic (08Aug2002) Jer 30.1-2,12-15,18-22; Ps 102; Mt14.22-36
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
First and Often

H. Richard Niebuhr, theologian and professor at The Divinity School, Yale University in the first half of the 20th Century, counseled the order in which to ask these two questions: What should I do? and What is God doing in the world around me? “What is God doing?” I ought to ask first and often.

While H. Richard Niebuhr did not share our Ignatian heritage he was at home in it. He was in synch with Ignatius to ask first what God is doing. As parishioners and visitors of Gesu you probably know that we not only ask, What God is doing? we try to view ourselves and our world from the Trinity’s perspective when we contemplate the Incarnation? “In their eternity the Divine Persons decided that the Second Person should also become a human being to save the human race.”

Before I contemplated the Incarnation in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, I gradually became aware that God acted on my behalf. I followed God. I followed not very well. I still want to rush ahead of God. It is my wound, to use Jeremiah’s image, and I cannot cure it. I can prevent God from curing it, although it is God’s deepest desire to do so.

I cannot predict how God heals my wound. I can only see more clearly God at work. Faith seeks to see God healing and notes progress. It is a gift. Imagine yourself with the disciples in their boat that night.

I can only imagine that the disciples endured an eternity of toil, strained backs and arms and frightful uncertainty as waves and wind lashed their dinghy. An “eternity” because Jesus did not walk to them until just before dawn!

Peter rose above his fear enough to see what God was doing in Jesus: walking on the sea. Peter thought he should do what Jesus was doing. I sensed in my contemplation this time that Peter wanted to console his brothers by confirming for them Jesus’ assurance that he was no ghost. Strong wind distracted Peter’s gaze on Jesus and what Jesus was doing.

Each of us can recall in our own metaphors of watching Jesus act and acting with Jesus until the strong wind of temptation, desolation, doubt or another darkens our gaze, and we falter. Each time Jesus stretched out his hand and caught us: although we may not have realized right away Jesus’ lovingly strong and personal hold on us. That has been my experience.

Knowing that ever more certainly--that is, Jesus keeps reaching for me--is why I have been so long in hearing Jesus’ words to Peter and to me, you of little faith, more a term of endearment than stern chastising.

Peter did console his brothers, who worshiped Jesus as son of God after [Peter and Jesus] got into the boat. His consolation did not happen the way Peter thought it would. Peter was consoled immeasurably, as Jesus wants to console us, because Peter first saw what God our Lord was doing, and second, Peter heard Jesus address him with affection in the storm of the moment.

St. Dominic relied upon God to heal deeper-than-physical ailments: to heal whatever keeps us distant from God; to grant genuine charity.

"Frequently he made a special personal petition that God would deign to grant him a genuine charity in caring for and obtaining the salvation of [people]."**

Keep focused on Jesus, and try to see from his healing, in-touch-with-God point of view. Ignatius is toasting Dominic on his feast today for having done that in Dominic’s own way.
* Spiritual Exercises [102].
** Proceedings of the Canonization of St. Dominic, Rome 1935; quoted in Liturgy of the Hours, vol.4, p. 1302.

No comments: