4th Sunday C   –   I AM WITH YOU

The backdrop to this Gospel story was the ancient Mediterranean world and its traditions. It was one that’s foreign to us and difficult to understand. “In the Mediterranean world of antiquity everyone had a proper place that was established by birth. No one was ever expected to become something better than or improve on the lot of the parents. This fact is the basic foundation of honour, the public claim to worth, and the public acknowledgement of that worth by others. Each child inherits, carries on, and is expected to safeguard the family’s honour” – John J. Pilch, THE CULTURAL WORLD OF JESUS, (3), p.28,

The story of confrontation between Jesus and his fellow townsfolk confronts us with ourselves and our need for self-awareness. There are times when we need to look at how we are thinking and feeling about ourselves, other people, the past, the future and various situations. A bit of self-awareness or self-knowledge can help to liberate us from the self-image we take for granted and which can easily wrap us in a faulty worldview. It’s one thing to tell myself who I think I am. It’s another thing to hear what a trusted friend says. And what is God’s word to me? “Be still and know that I am God” says the psalmist. Maybe we need to organise periods of stillness in which we can listen better and catch an echo of God’s creative word of love that brings us into being.

This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen. The Word was made flesh, and from moment to moment dwells among us – no matter where we are or what we are doing. “O Lord, you search me and you know me, you know my resting and my rising, you discern my purpose from afar. You mark when I walk or lie down, all my ways lie open to you….It was you who created my being, knit me together in my mother’s womb….O search me, God, and know my heart. Test me and know my thoughts….lead me on the path to live eternal” – Psalm 139. Because God is with us unceasingly St. Paul tells us to pray always. The late Fr. Henri Nouwen commenting on Paul’s injunction recommended that we turn our unceasing flow of thoughts and imaginings into conversation with God.

To pray is to think and live in the presence of the reality and mystery we call God. It means turning our thoughts and imaginings into a conversation with the Divine Presence. It doesn’t mean thinking about God all the time. It involves looking out at life from new eyes, looking at the day and receiving the moment in its wholeness as God’s gift. It means moving from self-centeredness to God-centeredness. To be in the presence of God is to share, but with a deft touch, our preoccupations, thoughts, distractions, plans, hopes and dreams. And from time to time being quiet and listening in silence. Jesus went into the synagogue and proclaimed to the assembly the good news that God was with them right now, this minute – today, even as they listen.

Fr. QQ – 01/26/2022



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