Sunday, October 16, 2016
Sunday word, 16 Oct 16
Twenty-ninth Sunday of the Year C (16 Oct 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Distractions? Or, Holy Spirit?
Recently Pope Francis offered encouragement about something very real yet not easy to identify: interior, spiritual, restlessness. Two kinds exist, the pope said: “it’s possible to experience [in our deepest selves] two types of restlessness: the good one, which is the restlessness of the Holy Spirit, which the Holy Spirit gives us, and unsettles the soul in order to do good things, to move forward; and there is also the bad type of restlessness, the one that is born of a guilty conscience…[causing us] to live with[out]…peace…with fear.”1
The pope’s insight helps because we may discount good restlessness that surfaces when we pray and think about our prayer and daily living. We may consider it one more distraction rather than sift it and notice it may be God inviting us to live a fuller life in closer relationship with God and others.
When it comes to praying, we’re quick to name various things distractions, even things that may be promptings of Jesus’ spirit—especially when they register in us as restlessness, tension, feeling something more on the horizon of my life. Yet, our triune God offers us more of God’s life even while calling us to accept and to choose God’s more abundant life.
To accept and to choose God’s more abundant life is to want what Jesus wants: I came, he said, so [people] might have life and have it more abundantly.2 Jesus desires we enjoy his more abundant life. It has an inviting, promising, uplifting, forward-leaning feel. It may also register within as that Spirit-given restlessness Pope Francis encouraged us to notice and foster.
As we more eagerly want what Jesus wants for us it becomes our attitude, our stance toward life. Today’s responsorial psalm gave us an opportunity to voice together our Christian stance toward life: I lift up my eyes toward the mountains…to the Lord…my help…my guardian…beside me…to guard my coming and going.
This expectant, forward-leaning attitude invites us to more; challenges us to live Jesus’ gospel better; deepens how we give flesh and blood to his gospel. Our expectant, forward-leaning attitude helps us want what Jesus wants for us and for our world. Even desiring to want what Jesus wants fixes our attention on Jesus; it lets the pattern of his living, dying and rising refashion us. Prayer cultivates our expectant, forward-leaning attitude.
To help our praying Jesus offered his parable about the necessity for disciples to pray always without becoming weary. Most of us may empathize with the widow and hope to emulate her: to persist and to persevere in both our praying and Christian living. We may focus exclusively on the widow because the dishonest judge was no congenial character. Yet, Jesus insisted the dishonest judge was the central character: The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.” God outdoes humans, even unsavory characters: God joins persistent petitioners as guardian, advocate and help.
Any takeaways to help us as we enter our week? Here are three: first, sift everything we notice in our praying so we may grow aware of Holy Spirit drawing us closer to Jesus; second, ask for the grace to turn our attention toward Jesus and share more deeply his inviting, uplifting, forward-leaning attitude; third, count on his mercy whether it is convenient or inconvenient in our daily living. Those three can help us live Jesus’ gospel with renewed vigor.
To make these takeaways yours give Jesus 15 minutes each day this week. Rest in our triune God. Ask the dishonest judge, who acted from restlessness in Jesus’ parable, to present you to Jesus. Chat with Jesus: praise him for transforming you through subtle movements as well as dramatic moments in your life; ask Jesus for the grace to keep your attention on him and share more deeply his inviting, uplifting, forward-leaning attitude. Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ words, on earth as it is in heaven, on our lips remind us that Jesus, his Father and Holy Spirit work toward our good in all things.