BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.
Be in your prayer space, follow the usual steps and settle into silence.
Take a couple of gentle, slow and deep breaths…becoming aware of your breath going in and out… stay focused on this breath of life……
Breathe in all that is of God and from God…all that is true, honest, pure, admirable, noble, decent, virtuous, worthy of praise, good, loving, kind – all that deserves respect..
Settle into silence, into peacefulness, into profound silence, into pure joy. Keep listening in quietness, stillness and serenity. Come to that place, that space within, that place of deep silence – Solitude…to just being here and now, without having to accomplish something.
Now I invite you to consecrate your time and all that come with this moment….in your own way, in humble, simple, may be even inadequate words………..
It’s time to rest with God……to rest in God. This hour…..this moment…..rest in God. Good-bye to all goals, projects, structures, situations, feelings, thoughts….I am in meditation, in contemplation, resting in God, abiding in God.
Our meditation today is on the simple and the ordinary men and women who lived extraordinary lives of Christian commitment.
Jesus was on the road. The synagogues were not open to him any more as they used to be for him. He had to move on into the open roads, the hillsides and the lakeshore. The Gospel of Luke tells us the story of a group of women who ministered to Jesus out of their means as he moved from town to town proclaiming good news (Luke 8:1-3).
It was considered to be a pious thing to support a Rabbi. The help that the women gave was an acceptable and welcome practice. But this little group was simple and ordinary women who did something extraordinary, like the group of disciples. It is amazing to find Mary of Magdala and Joanna the wife of Chuza in the same company…the woman of the street and the woman of the court came together without the shame and without the pride which ordinarily would have kept them apart.Their help was practical. Being women they would not be allowed to preach…they gave the gifts they had and the man who could work miracles welcomed the gifts of simple and humble women who gave generously…….
The Gospel of Luke gives us the story of Martha (Luke 10:38-42). Martha had lots to do. There were no cans to open, no frozen foods, no freezers, no fast food places to go, no 800 numbers to dial……Martha had lots to do. Guest had come and the guest was her friend, her brother’s friend and her sister’s friend and a Rabbi, a Prophet and much more.
Martha wished that if Jesus could just get Mary into the kitchen, together they could finish the work and spend time with the guest. But Jesus invited Martha to discern what was necessary and keep it simple.
The way this story has been passed on to modern readers of the Gospel is disappointing. Christians through the ages have misunderstood the whole episode. Many have thought that the struggle was in trying to keep a good balance between contemplative prayer and active ministry and that Jesus was encouraging us to choose the former over the latter.
While every disciple feels the tension of wanting to pray more, while being pulled to respond to the urgent needs, Jesus would never have preferred one over the other (if you know Jesus, that is). In fact, he told us over and over that a good disciple is one who hears the word and then puts it into practice (Lk.8:15; 11:28). We also know, in spite of his busy schedule and the pressures of those who needed him, he withdrew into quite places to be alone with his Father, to discern his Father’s plans, to draw strength and courage and wisdom and to surrender to his Father’s will.
What Jesus said to Martha was to keep it simple and uncomplicated!
The month of July calls us to celebrate many ordinary events and remember many ordinary people who lived extraordinary lives of faith and hope and love. On July first, we remember Blessed Junipero Serra who walked hundreds of miles as a missionary, founded the many missions of California, baptized and confirmed thousands of people and brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. On July second, we remember Oliver Plunkett, the great Irish Martyr who was condemned, hanged, drawn and quartered for defending the faith in his native Ireland during a period of severe persecution.
Thomas the Apostle blesses us on July third. He was an extraordinary person. He was blamed and praised and thanked for the same qualities: Impulsiveness and skepticism. He was impulsive enough to say to his friends “let us go and die with him”, when Jesus was going to hostile territory; he was skeptical about where his master was going and how to get there; he was doubtful about the resurrection and he was not going to believe the word of others, but would believe only when he could touch the wounds of his master and finally he was impulsive enough to say, “my Lord and my God” when he met his master again.
The seeking, questioning nature of Thomas made it possible for him to discover the truth for himself. His impulsiveness helped him to surrender to the truth when he finally found it. After all, he wasn’t skeptical and he wasn’t impulsive…..he was just seeking the truth and he was ready to give himself to the truth that he found.
On July 4th, we remember the many simple and ordinary men and women who gave their life for our freedom. It was not just these men and women, it was their families, husbands, wives, children, parents and friends who made great sacrifices for the cause of freedom. Their lives have become for us both blessing and challenge.
Bridget was married as a teenager, arranged by her father, raised eight children and with all the concerns of her family, lived an amazing spiritual life and gave generous service to her people. Ignatius was a man, once disinterested in education and ambitious to be a military officer, but inspired by the lives of saints, gave up all his ambitions and surrendered everything “for the greater glory of God”. In July, we also remember Elizabeth of Portugal, Antony Mary Zachariah, Maria Goretti, Benedict, Kateri Tekakwitha, Bonaventure, Mary Magdalene, James, Anne, Joachim, Martha and many others who were simple and ordinary people who lived extraordinary lives of holiness.
Let us draw inspiration from these simple and ordinary men and women and learn to live out our spiritual life where we are as we go about doing our daily chores and fulfilling the mission God has entrusted to us.
Saints of God come in every age, in all size, shape, color and age. Some are remembered by name, many are unknown to us. Abraham was 175 years old when he died; Moses died at the age of 120; Jesus was 30 when he was crucified; Agnes and Maria Goretti were only 12 years when they were martyred; Antony of the desert died at the age of 105.
Abraham he was too old, uncertain
Sarah she was old, doubtful
Moses he was a slave, had a speech impediment
Miriam she was jealous and rebellious
Isaiah he was "a man of unclean lips"
Jeremiah he was "too young for the job"
Jonah he was unwilling and running away from his calling
Peter, the rock-man he denied the one he loved most
Mathew he was a tax collector, an outcast
Zacheus he took "kickback" from taxes collected from his people
Mary Magdalene she was a "hooker"
Thomas he was impulsive and a skeptic
Martha she was worrier, complainer
Simon the Zealot he was a nationalist
Thief on the cross he said the last prayer (probably the first, too)
Saul (Paul) he was out to destroy Christianity
St. Ambrose he was not yet baptized when he was acclaimed Bishop
St. Augustine he had a son outside marriage
Bridget of Sweden she was mother of eight children, married at 16
Dorothy Day she was a non-believer, had a child outside marriage
“you are fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God – being built to become a dwelling place for God in the spirit” (Eph.2:19-22)
Fr. Gus Tharappel, msfs