17th Sunday A
Like Treasure Hidden
I overheard someone say a few days ago that traffic on the streets is back to where it was before the pandemic. My personal reaction? “Oh no, I was hoping we had slowed down!” We are busy people. Multi-taskers – on our iPhones, our iPads and our laptops. Whether it’s after hours, on weekends and even on holidays, we feel a need to be connected. Our attention is always drawn somewhere else.
More and more people are connected 24/7, yet too often disconnected from what is really important. “I’m very busy,” someone emailed recently, “but I often think I’m not really connected to reality. I keep waiting for the big moment when I can relax and say now my life makes sense.” Reminds me of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.” Two characters wait for the arrival of someone called Godot. When he doesn’t arrive, they get a rope and even contemplate suicide. But then decide to wait yet another day. And on it goes. When the play ends, Godot has still not arrived.
The play often reminds me of people looking and waiting for an experience of God, but unaware they live totally in the presence of God. “There is one sacred universe, and we are all part of it,” wrote Franciscan Richard Rohr. What’s missing is awareness; we suffer from a kind of ‘spiritual glaucoma’. Institutional religion has the problem to the extent that it’s often more concerned about itself and its security than Who it represents and the human realities of those it serves.
God is bigger and deeper than organised religion. Good religion should reveal the sacred. Healthy human beings should learn to look at their life experiences with greater depth and awareness. Questions such as life, death, the meaning of human existence, and the place of God in it all should be part of everyday human wondering.
I read last week that toward the end of his career Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, said that he was not aware of a single one of his patients in the second half of their lives whose problem could not have been solved by contact with the ‘numinous.’ The ‘numinous’ for Jung, who was estranged from organized religion meant a contemplative attitude, the presence of the divine, the sacred.
Thomas Merton, the American monk and mystic, felt toward the end of his life, that even monastic life had lost the contemplative mindset. He observed that monks just “said prayers.” If Christianity is to survive it needs to move in the direction of contemplative consciousness and lifestyle. People need to be taught not just to say prayers but led to an experience of prayer.
Fr. QQ – 7/22/2020