September 21, 2014
ORDINARY 25 (A)
My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are my ways your ways, says the Lord. – Isa. 55: 8
When we are in a foreign place & come across someone who speaks our language, we are relieved – not because they can help us find our way, but because he or she is someone who understands. People who speak the same language share certain thoughts the same way. But God’s doesn’t speak our language, & all too often we do not understand His.
So we enter into that puzzling & perplexing problem for the Christian: How can we know the mind of God? Since we hardly know our own minds at times, the difficulty should not come as a surprise. We are, at best, squinting through a glass darkly, but the saints give us a clue: it requires a leap, a radical change in the way we think & behave. It is called the leap of faith.
Leaps take place across streams, from airplanes, across canyons; but the most daring leap of all in the life of the soul is the leap into the house of God, into the place where God’s presence dwells. It is the most daring because if we should miss by some fault of our own the fall is the most deadly of all falls – utter silence, the death of the soul.
Still, the only thing worse than missing is not to try at all. Week after week, the empty seats & pews are a stark reminder of the many who are too indifferent to try. Even among those who do come, there can be an air of boredom that betrays where their hearts really are – out there, anywhere, except with God.
In his poem about an art exhibit, T.S. Eliot refers to this numb indifference: “They come & go, & speak of Michael Angelo.” Or as another wag puts it: “They do it every Sunday, they’ll be alright on Monday; it’s just a little habit they’ve acquired.”
What is happening is that we do not understand God’s language, & so we’re bored. We’ve tuned out the music of the heavenly spheres & are turned off to the vocabulary of the heavenly Jerusalem because we are hypnotized by the glitter & self-indulgence of the earthly city. The result is speechlessness.
Speechlessness is a symptom of bewilderment. Bewildered people cannot open their mouths. They can only shake their heads & dribble words in no sensible pattern. That is why so much rubbish is being said & written about God & religion these days. It is not the divine poetry that is unintelligible, but we who have yet to make a real leap. For those who have made that leap, it may take their breath away, but it doesn’t leave them speechless. On the contrary, they become fluent in the language of love & joy. AMEN!