Saturday 31 March 2012

Nothing More Practical than Seeking and Finding God

By Eric Hanna, S.J.

In today's readings for the Eucharist, the people begin to look away from themselves and towards Jesus. After Lazarus is raised from the death, Mary, his sister, travels with Jesus because she believes in him. A great many people are hearing stories about the many wonders Jesus has worked!

Anticipation builds, what will this Jesus do next? And with that anticipation, dread builds in the hearts of the Jewish authorities. “The Romans let us run our temple because we keep the people in line … now some prophet in the desert is stirring them up! We could lose everything. We must be unified, not divided.” 

In the first reading, the prophet Ezekiel speaks to a people experiencing the pain of division. The once proud nation of Israel is broken and scattered. They long to be gathered up into one.

These days, I feel pretty scattered. I feel like I am going in many directions at once. I feel divided about what to do next. I want to know how much I can practically accomplish and where I may need to cut things out. Fine. But I start to go wrong when I begin to cut off my own limbs. I think: maybe I don't have time to pray, or I do not have the time to spend with my Jesuit brothers. I've got things to do.

That's the Pharisees' solution to the problem of division: consolidate power into one authority and cut off all the dissenting parts. It is better that one man should die for the people: we must be practical!

Right now, what's weighing on your mind? What do you feel you must cut out for practicality's sake? Father Adolfo Nicholas, SJ – General Superior of the Society of Jesus – has told us: “There is nothing more practical than finding God.” And he is very right. God lets us see beyond ourselves.

“I will take the people … gather them from every quarter, and bring them to their own land” (Ez 37:21). When we pray, we are not leaving the practical world behind; we are discovering where God truly calls us to be in that world. When I pray, God gathers up all my scattered thoughts and plans, and lets me focus on love. Love that gives order and purpose to every part of my being, even those parts I had cut away as impediments. God shows me their redeemed purpose. And I become whole again. In prayer we stop clinging to control and we let Christ be king. “My dwelling place shall be with them and I will be their God” (Ez 37:27).

God is dwelling with you, in this moment. You are being gathered together and made whole. So join in the heightened expectation of today's Gospel. What will happen next? “He will not come to the festival will he?” (Jn 11:56). He is coming. And he is coming to heal all division. As Holy week unfolds, let us look away from ourselves and towards Him, our true King. The man who “will gather into one the dispersed children of God” (Jn 11:52).

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