Monday, March 9, 2015

Detachment, properly understood, means freedom, inner freedom.

In detachment the spirit finds quiet and repose, for coveting nothing, nothing wearies it by elation and nothing oppresses it by dejection, because it stands in the center of its own humility - St. John of the Cross

Gospel Text: (LK 4:24-30)
Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth:
“Amen, I say to you,
no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel
in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built,
to hurl him down headlong.
But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

As human beings, we all desire safety and security. We like to feel that we know what to expect, whether it be how things are supposed to work or what people are like. With this knowledge, we believe that we can maintain a level of order in our lives. Yet sometimes, we can become so set in our ways that we develop what St. Ignatius Loyola would call disordered attachments to what otherwise would be good and holy things. When we become so attached to these structures that we hold on to them for dear life, we are no longer free to allow God’s grace to enter into our lives. However, as we enter more deeply into this Lenten season, God comes to shake things up a bit, to encourage us to be free of such attachments, to let go of our preconceived notions of God, of ourselves, and of others.

In the Gospel today, we again see how people are set in their ways and so refuse to receive Jesus, the son of the carpenter. Not only are they unable to see Jesus in a new light, they are not open to hearing his words. Jesus’ mere suggestion that God’s grace could be active in the lives of outsiders like Naaman the Syrian and the widow of Zarephath infuriates the people in the synagogue. Yet our God is a God of surprises, whose grace is active in our lives and in the lives of those around us in ways that we often do not notice or expect.

During this Lent, God calls us to be open and attentive, to see God’s grace with new eyes and to hear God’s Word with new ears. In doing so, we will encounter the presence of our living God in unexpected ways.

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