15th Sunday Ordinary Time
July 10, 2016
“For this commandment which I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky that you should say, ‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it so that we might carry it out? Nor is it across the sea …. No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.’”
Deuteronomy 30:10-14 (1st reading at Mass)
When I was discerning the priesthood, I used my airline travel benefits to fly all over the country for retreats at various religious institutes and monasteries in an attempt to hear God speaking to me. One day, while I happened to be in Massachusetts on another vocation discernment week, I called my father in Los Angeles and told him where I was this time in the pursuit of my vocation, and he said to me, “So, tell me, why do you have to fly 3000 miles to find the will of God?” Well, that comment really opened my eyes. In fact, in the end I did find my vocation-- nearby--in the parish church across the street from my house. The Lord’s will can be discerned right where we are, right now. We don’t have to go long distances to discover his will--we can hear him in the Scriptures, in church teaching, and in our lives.
God seldom asks extraordinary things of us. If that were so, very few of us would ever get into heaven or become the saints we were born to become. St. Theresa of Lisieux (in her autobiography The Story of a Soul), was at the beginning of her spiritual life put off by some of the stories of the saints and the rigorous penances and austerities they went through. She decided to ask God to show her an “elevator” to live a life pleasing to God.
What is that elevator? We show our love for God by simply doing well the tasks we are obliged to do each day. We do not need to seek God by striking out on long and arduous pilgrimages, climbing the heavens on our own or getting a doctorate in theology! God’s will for us is expressed in the circumstances we now live in, the people in our lives, the situations in which we find ourselves. The present moment is the only place where we can actually show God that we really love him; by showing love to the person we meet in the here and now; by being faithful to God in this concrete situation right here.
Actually, everything we need is in the Scriptures, in our church as Catholics and by making use of the opportunities presented to us each day by the people we live, work and go to school with, however flawed they or we might be. He is in our mouths in the prayers we say at Mass and in our hearts when we get home: our task in life is to carry out the will of God as it is expressed in the present moment where all grace resides.