Friday of Week 27 in Ordinary Time
“But on arrival, finding it swept and tidied, it then goes off and brings seven other spirits more wicked than itself…and set up house there…”
I turned 46 this year. And though 46 is not a milestone birthday by any stretch, the fact that ‘mid-life’ occurred during a year of unprecedented tumult, gave me a new appreciation for the people God has put in my life. There’s a common perception that if you’ve made it to your fourth decade, it’s your right to not give a toss about others and what they think of you. That is flawed logic. It certainly does not apply to me. I care what the people in my life think about me. At 46, I have pruned my circle of friends and family down to those who truly matter. So, I care what they think. And I care when our viewpoints collide, as they have begun to, more noticeably in the last two years. Maybe it is the pandemic, everyone with more time on their hands, everyone reading too much toxic news. Maybe it’s the election in America. Maybe it’s social media, that old scapegoat for all the ills that bedevil us. All I know is that there has been a sharp increase in discord between myself and the people I care about.
Not everyone in my circle of trust is a practicing Catholic. Quite a few of them would say they are ‘spiritual but not religious.’. Those who self-profess so prefer to seek enlightenment in more new-age practices like ‘self-care’, ‘mindfulness’ and ‘meditation’. Also within my circle of trust are baptized Catholics who have stopped going to Mass because they perceive the Church and its traditions to be ‘not inclusive’ or not ‘woke enough’. It’s very hard to watch all this happening to the people I care about and not say something. But so far, my attempts at rebuttal have come across as fusty and defensive. I DO feel defensive! C’mon people! Who clears out their spiritual closet and replaces Christ with…‘mindful meditation’?! What does ‘mindful meditation’ even mean?! Maybe I’ve been programmed to be skeptical about things that seem too easy, but I don’t think meditating on an app brings absolution. So, I’ve become somewhat of a trope, the professed Catholic trying to make a case for God, but succeeding only at being out of touch with the political and cultural zeitgeist.
I see no way out of this, no way at least, that doesn’t involve tears, confrontation, and the risk of estrangement. The scribe from Joel is right, “Gird yourselves and weep…the house of your God is deprived of offering and libation”. Scripture tells us that we are to be the “salt and the light” for the people in our lives, that how we conduct ourselves and the words we speak, reflect God’s love outward. If so, I’ve done a terrible job at communicating it to the people He has placed in my life. I pray Christ inhabits me the next time an opportunity comes up, that the Holy Spirit comes upon me to offer up the wisdom that sows seeds of conversion. I am not so educated or so well-spoken that I would know how to do this on my own. And I cannot be the only one who is in this position, trying to defend Christ and our faith in a secular world that has become increasingly hostile to me and us.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for families who are being driven apart by opposing beliefs, value systems and politics. We pray for unity, for forgiveness, for patience, for fortitude.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the Holy Spirit, the font of all wisdom and prophecy. May we be inspired with the words when we most need them.