Thursday, August 03, 2017

Dailyword, 03 Aug 17

Seventeenth Thursday of the Year (03 Aug 2017)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J. on 8-day Directed Retreat
God Labors for Us
Two images from the scriptures are related in us: dwelling and net. First, dwelling. Moses visited God on the mountain. In Moses’ absence the people lost heart; their mood caused Aaron to lose heart, too. When we lose heart our inner vision blurs, our sense of ourselves dulls; yet God loves us with God’s steadfast merciful love. To revive Aaron and the people no longer did God touch a mountain; God inhabited a dwelling among the people. By that choice God reconciled with the people; and not only then but in all the stages of their journey through life. This marked the people’s healing.

God desires the same healing, encouragement for us. By God’s healing Spirit you and I are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.1 Healed by our triune God we live as agents of reconciliation for others and for all creation.

Jesus’ image of a net thrown into the sea also applies to our role in the divine desire to restore people. His image communicates more clearly when we recall Jesus spoke to fishermen and to others who depended on those who fished. The common way to fish was to hurl a net over as wide an area as possible and cover a shoal of fish. That was strenuous work, to be sure. Only later could one measure the worth of one’s effort: separating fish into those worth selling from fish that were not. How is that related in us?

We are involved with casting the gospel net: our choices and actions even more than our words spread Jesus’ good news to others. That is our vocation; God will see to separating the catch. We are easily tempted to want to do that as well. We prefer our timing over God’s because God’s timing rarely fits ours. Coming on retreat helps us surrender ourselves to God’s timing, which is never late.

Coming on retreat helps us renew our confidence in God, who cares now for us and will manage the future. Coming on retreat frees us to let God be God and to let us be our true selves. Coming on retreat lets us rest from casting our nets; we are free to inspect the nets of our inmost selves and let God heal and mend any tears, ease tensions our false selves fashion and strengthen stretched expanses of our hearts. Coming on retreat is our courageous response to God laboring for us. Retreat gives us glimpses of how God labors for us2: God desires to share divine life and love with us; God welcomes us to let God renew our vision, rewarm our hearts and love us into the individuals God creates and redeems each moment. God extends Godself to us so that dwelling here with God will affect our world for the better.

  1. Ephesians 2.22.
  2. Spiritual Exercises [236] and link to comments by O’Brien and Ivens.
Wiki-image by BigBrotherMouse Casting a net CC BY-SA 3.0

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