Roy Lessin, Thoughts About God.
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[Jesus said], “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.” Luke 17:10.
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There are moments in life which are unforgettable. A birth, a marriage, a death, almost certainly. Getting a job, or the opposite. They are all there at the top of our life experiences. There was one moment in my life which was unforgettable which was also unique and strange. I had joined the Society of Jesus in their novitiate which was then in Wernersville, Pennsylvania (now sold). Like all Jesuit novices, I embarked on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, otherwise known as the Long Retreat, 30 days in silence. There was a moment in that experience which was unique in my life. One morning, I was overcome with a cold, empty feeling which told me instantly there is no God. I knew instantly that God did not exist. The very first thought which occurred to me was “what am I doing here?” All around me was alien, the novitiate, the chapel, the novices, the priests, everything. My retreat director (and novice master), Fr. George Aschenbrenner, took this all very calmly. I was not to panic, just take everything as it comes, to wait. The coldness vanished after a short time, and what I considered normal life resumed. God returned!
This memory returned to me looking at today’s gospel. That bleak moment was as if I had been dismissed from my job. Job? Yes, being God’s good servant! Today’s readings are about service, to be God’s good servant, as Thomas More said moments before his execution: “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first”. And it would be very easy to hear him agreeing to the last words of today’s gospel, quoted above. I have another servant story, which might or might not be applicable here. In my teens growing up in London, I wrote to Buckingham Palace for a job, and got a reply! I was told my application would be considered, but did I accept that I would have to spend summers at Balmoral (where the Queen died this month). Well that did it – no thank you, in the middle of nowhere in the Scottish highlands with little to do and nowhere to go after daily chores. I had my standards! Now, compare that to being God’s servant. Are there barren moments in that job? Yes. Will I have to look at misery (from today’s first reading)? Yes. Will I have to bear my share of hardship for the gospel (from today’s gospel)? Yes (if I am being a true servant of God). It is not easy to be God’s servant, to be true to Jesus’s command to love my neighbor always, everywhere, no matter what. And if I manage to do that, I would simply be doing what any good servant of the Lord was required to do. And how? Because, to quote today’s second reading, God did not give us (me) a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So there!
But is there happiness in trying to be such a good servant? Can one be content in such a role? Is any rest allowed? Yes, yes and yes. Today’s gospel says clearly, “You may eat and drink when I am finished”. So God does the divine work, sowing the Good Word, and it is up to us to water the saplings, foster the growth and reap the harvest, all for the Lord, with the strength he gives us, each of us with our unique gifts and talents. To be Christ to the world in every way in every moment, because Jesus himself said that he had come to serve, not to be served (Matthew 20:28). Not easy, but a servant’s job includes all that. Hence we – I – must suppress all that is wrong in myself which would damage my job – vocation – as God’s servant. And so, each day, we begin again.
St. Thomas More, St. Paul’s Anglican (Episcopal) Church, Brighton, UK.
Reflections on next Sunday’s Mass Readings will be posted on Wednesday.
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2 thoughts on “SUNDAY 2 OCTOBER 2022: THE TWENTY-SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME.”
Words cannot express how much I look forward to your sermons. I feel I am a better person for reading them.
God bless you!
Thanks very much Margaret. Your kind words are deeply appreciated. We all do what we can as we work the best we able in Lord’s vineyard!
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