“..let us lie in wait for the virtuous man , since he annoys us & opposes our way of life” ..so say the godless in 1st rdg..I’d like to suggest it isn’t just the godless who give the good & virtuous hassle & grief..it is often our fellow seekers of God, who feel deflated disheartened by the apparent virtue of the great & good among us..if only they knew.. our talking the talk of our faith in our homes & in this locality, among our loved ones who rarely meet with us here & yet be sure are on a journey seeking God..in a different guise & forum to that in which we give them the impression [ a mistaken impression ]we find him, they are nonetheless a fellow pilgrims, our companions on the same journey.. towards a destination as yet unknown.. for times we give way to comparisons triumphalism jealousy despondency or gloom, as we measure the gap twixt ourselves & others, & judge ourselves either superior or inadequate, let us ask for our divine even-hearted companions mercy & forgiveness..
“..let us see if what he sees is true..” ..that which our stayaway Catholics see.. ; Lord have mercy “..explore this gentleness of his..” ..firm rules or gentle compassion?.. ;Christ have mercy “..he will be looked after..we have his word for it” ..a word gently spoken from heart, or harshly written on tablets of stone?.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..how is it to be on the outside of a secret?..a closely guarded secret a story an experience kept from us..a few know,& they & we know they know, & nonetheless we are excluded ..how does it feel?..even Our Lords closest followers, in on some of story, were kept in dark about the way ahead “the Son of Man will be delivered into hands of men; put to death & 3days later will rise again..but they did not understand what he said & were afraid to ask him” mind blowing to think that even for his closest followers some issues were not discussed..isn’t it same in your family & in my community, the elephant in the room..”we talk about everything which is nothing, but nothing of what is everything..& so begins my parade of masks, & my life becomes a front”..a façade rather like Glasgow School of Art, housing Rennie Mackintosh’s treasures tragically lost in a devastating fire in summer..everything lost & all that remained was an empty shell the external façade of building, its heart purpose its life story lost..tragically it also happens to real lives..we self seek, we collect religious & worldly artefacts treasures keepsakes stories, treasure chest of good works so that eventually, like worker in vineyard, we will have & hold an impressive collection to give to our divine steward, hard earned safely squirrelled away, the acorns of our good behaviour & our religious conformity..an acorn for each Sunday Mass, two for a weekday Mass & four for a baptism..& eight if its twins..& we smile at its familiarity..Our Lord smiles back, not in pity or disappointment, but in loving gentle compassion..”there is one thing you lack, go sell all you own, then come follow me”..just before he gave rich young lad this challenge “Jesus looked steadily at him & loved him” St James in 2nd rdg challenges our mode of prayer..if it is driven & performance related then don’t be surprised if it seemingly isn’t answered..prayer is always heard & is always answered but not always in the way we would like it to be..& tragically when we think we know the answer..the answer we want & need..then rarely do we get it right..what self righteousness to think we know what is best for us & that God will dance to our tune.. imagine..self indulgence, self seeking, the life of a fat controller who manages trains engines carriages & never sets foot off the platform..a spectator in control rather than a disciple in motion..a religious obesity some of us suffer from..& in cool of evening not in heat of day he asks“what were you arguing about on the road?..they said nothing”..too afraid to come clean, to tell him they’d childishly been arguing over who was top dog.. who arranges best Church flowers, who sings best in pefect pitch, who gave most to food bank last month..an aspiring Rennie Mackintosh in good religious best practice rather than post modern IKEA or retro M&S..”a façade of assurance without, a trembling child within.& so begins my parade of masks” a cry for help, for appreciation, for that which I cannot assure myself..that I am loved & needed, & not to be lived without..& greatly” a fact not disclosed but a truth discovered, emerging slowly gently organically, when we come clean, sell all we own & possess in our performance related conformity, & “come follow me”..”make himself last of all & servant of all” the best seat in heaven, the most comfortable seat at the wedding feast, is just inside at back next to kitchen door where you can relate comfortably with cooks waitresses unpretentious servants..fellow servants of ours with ultimate in common..active disciples..& if you think Jesus had all answers & was like old school schoolteacher who dangled right answer in front of children in teasing mode, listen to St Teresa of Avila;”Jesus is an authentic man, & the unalterable nobility of human beings is to be able, even to feel a duty, to freely project the design of their existence into a future they do not know. If they are believers, the future into which they propel & project themselves is God in his freedom & immensity. To deprive Jesus of this opportunity & to see him advancing towards a goal known beforehand, comes down to despoiling him of his human dignity”..did Jesus the teacher know it all?.. no, he couldn’t give away secret because, like you & me, he was to realise there was no cold secret, only the warmth life & energy of an emerging truth..called God.. [25thSunYrB;Mk9;30-37]