16th Sunday Ordinary Time
July 22, 2018
What do you do when your plans are interrupted or changed suddenly in some unforeseen way? This is the situation that Christ and the apostles find themselves in this Sunday (Mark 6:30-34). Their ministry has been so successful that Christ suggests they all need to get away by themselves for a while and recharge their batteries. Don’t we all feel the same way sometimes? So, they all got into a boat to escape from everyone; but soon there’s a problem: “Everyone” was waiting for them when they arrived at their supposed secluded getaway spot.
The challenge for the disciples, and for us, is in being able to recognize and accept God’s will for us in the present moment, the way things are right now. God’s will is not to be found just in the ideal circumstances in our minds, or when we get done with our own agenda or just on our “to do” list. It is not found only after our health returns or when we get “caught up.” When unforeseen events happen, we can find God’s will for us by focusing on what God wishes for us to do at the present moment, that is, right now, dealing with life just as it has been given to us. Here, and only here, will we find the will of God.
It is of crucial importance in the spiritual life that we try to keep in mind the importance of the present moment. While it is true that the past and the future are all present to God and he dwells equally in all of these places, we humans actually live only in the present moment. We can interact with God only in the now, the place where eternity impinges on time.
I have been enormously helped over the years by a little book called Abandonment to Divine Providence by the Rev. Jean Pierre de Caussade. It contains profound, yet ultimately simple Christian wisdom, that the present moment is all we actually have in which to know God, to love God, and to serve God. In every moment of our lives, God is speaking to us and summoning us to closer harmony with himself.
In practical terms, this means that, no matter what the task at hand may be, the Lord can be found within it, provided we do our task well and have patience. This applies equally to an interrupted vacation or a stopped up toilet. The key to the whole thing is, what is God’s will for me now? God had a gift for the disciples in their ever-changing circumstances, and he has one for us, too: we will find it in the present moment, that now where God waits each day to meet us and expresses his will for our lives.