Saturday, July 18, 2015

Why Seek For What We Think We Already Have?

Reflections on the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B:

Why do we seek for what we believe we already have? The answer is quite evident: We don't. We only seek for what we have lost or what we desire to find. This brings me to our first reading

Things are going well for Israel, the Northern Kingdom. Their king has just been victorious in battle; the economy is great. They believe that God is blessing them, is pleased with them. They have Him; whey should they seek for Him? Although they are involved in "calf" worship; they believe in the God of their fathers, the God of Moses; they just worship Him in their own way. Nevertheless, things are going great, which they rightly attribute to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Moses. Why should they listen to a prophet from another country, who speaks nothing but gloom and doom? When everything is going well, we do not welcome words of pending doom., especially when we believe that it is God who is blessing us because we are pleasing Him. Why should we change? If things are rough, times hard, okay, let's listen; but, no, not now. The human tendency, the natural tendency is to "do what is right in our own eyes."

Why seek God when we believe we already have Him?
Did we not receive Him in Baptism--we in Christ and Christ in us? Yes. Do we not receive Him in the Eucharist--body, blood, soul, and divinity? Yes. Well, why do we have to seek for what we already have? Don't we just seek Him now when we want something? No. What we seek for is God's name, who He really is. We seek Him constantly because we desire to know Him more, to be as He is. I believe it is St. Augustine who explains that we live by faith, not by sight, yearning to see God face-to-face--by sight. That is the purpose of our pilgrimage. What are we seeking? We are seeking to mature in Christ, to become more and more the image of the Son, Who is the image of the Father.

At the end of last week's Gospel reading, we read that our Lord "was amazed at their lack of faith." Jesus is human; He could, while on earth, only be in one place at a time. He was limited by His humanity. Therefore, He sent the Twelve out two by two to preach that the Kingdom was at hand, to seek to enter the Kingdom. They were to take nothing but a walking stick--a staff, or better, a rod. Think of the staffs, rods, of Moses and Aaron. They were to trust God to fulfill their needs.

Baptism is the beginning of living by faith. We go to Mass, not to fulfill an obligation but because we seek God. We confess our sins because we have fallen--have stopped seeking Him--and we need to be set back on our feet in order that we may continue our pilgrimage, the goal of which is to see God by sight. In the Mass, we give ourselves and our "treasures," exchanging them for Jesus' divinity, for which we are seeking. We receive the Eucharist, receiving our Lord--body, blood, soul, and divinity. This also is living by faith. It is a progressive development, a maturation. A glass can be filled slowly or rapidly; nonetheless, the filling process must always begin from the bottom. When we sin, we cut off the water supply. We are warned that the water supply is going to be turned off, but we do not listen--because it is not what we want to hear. When we do not listen to the Catholic Church, we are stopping the water supply. As I have said before, The Catholic Church is the visible Christ on earth. It is His Body, of which He is the Head. If we do not listen to Christ--through the Catholic Church--the resulting outcome is that we "do what is right in our own eyes." What occurred in the Book of Judges when the Israelites "did what was right in their own eyes"? It makes truth relative. The Catholic Church is the Body of Christ, the ark, the Boat. It will persevere, endure, to the end. If we remain in her--not just think we are in her--we also will come to a successful completion of our pilgrimage to the fatherland: "As for me, in justice I shall behold Your face; I shall be filled with the vision of Your glory"--Entrance Antiphon.

St. Paul reminds us what God has given us in the Catholic Church (Eph 1:3-14) and what awaits us if we submit to Christ through the Church. The Father "enlightens the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope that belongs to our call" when we listen (obey) the Church. God does not redeem a bunch of individuals; He redeems a people, a community--the Catholic Church. Protestants are part of the Catholic Church, albeit estranged. Our Lord prays that we be unified; He saves a Body. The Church prays for all members of its Body.

"O God, who show the light of Your truth to those who go astray, so that they may return to the right path, give all who for the faith they profess are accounted Christians

the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name of Christ and to strive after all that does it honor. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever"--Collect.

We are not like the Jews who sought Jesus because of what He could give them: sustenance for their bodies; no, we seek Jesus for the purpose that He makes us as He is, that we see Him no longer by faith but by sight--face-to-face--that we become His image, as the Catholic Church is His image. Although we individual Catholics are not an image of Christ, the Catholic Church in its doctrine and dogmas is an image of Christ.

"Look upon the offerings of the Church, O Lord, as she makes her prayer to You, and grant that, when consumed by those who believe, they may bring ever greater holiness.  Through Christ our Lord"--Prayer Over the Offerings.

"The sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for her young: by your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are they who dwell in Your house, for ever singing your praise"--Communion Antiphon.

"Having consumed these gifts, we pray, O Lord, that, by our participation in this mystery, its saving effects upon us may grow. Through Christ our Lord"--Prayer After Communion.

Yes, we do seek for what we already have because it is not yet fulfilled in us by sight. Because we are a Body, we pray for all. We will complete our journey as a unified Body; therefore, we pray for those who may forget to pray. We need each other. Then the end of the journey will be upon us, and we will see by sight.

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh (keeps asking) receiveth (always receives); and he that seeketh (keeps seeking) findeth (always finds); and to him that knocketh (keeps knocking) it shall be opened" (Mt 7:7-8). What are we asking, seeking, and knocking for? Not for things, but to know God by Name, who He is.
--Tommy Turner

This theological reflection courtesy of the parishioners of St Paul Catholic Church in Pensacola, Florida: