Lenten Reflections 2021: Monday, March 8, 2021
Sometimes the extraordinary happens in the ordinary. Parents discover their limitless capacity to love when they have children. Friendships are often the means we learn about our gifts and talents and the gifts and talents of others. Even the celebration of Mass can seem ordinary if we do not focus with the eyes of faith.
For Naaman the Syrian the Jordan River was just too ordinary. He confused the small size of the river and the ordinary nature of water with the awesome and miraculous power of God. He was reluctant. As he is told, had he been made to do something insanely difficult he would have done it without question. But when he is asked to trust in the ordinary as the means for the extraordinary, he resists.
What is interesting is that the problem of Naaman can be our problem too. Baptism does not require amazing and extraordinarily difficult things on the part of the recipient, but rather uses an ordinary item (water) to communicate extraordinary things. Eucharist has essentially bread and wine, but they are the vehicle for the extraordinary presence of Jesus Christ. Spoken words communicate a lifelong sacramental promise, oil heals and commissions.
The extraordinary is communicated to us in a way we can receive it. We receive the extraordinary gift of God’s grace and love in ordinary items. In the ordinary events of our life we are capable of encountering the infinite God. And in ordinary human beings we see the extraordinary image and likeness of God.
For the people of Nazareth, Jesus was simply that local boy who grew up. Even when he performs miraculous acts, the people cannot see anything but his ordinariness. They expected a dramatic Messiah that would overthrow the Romans, not someone who lived among them as a religious person.
What is it we expect of God? Do we expect to encounter God in our prayers? Do we see God in the sacraments? How is it we recognize the Divine Son of God? Is he simply a good person, or is he something more? Or, in the words of Soren Kierkegaard do we admire Jesus or follow Jesus?
While we do not need to abandon reason, and in fact we should not, like any meaningful relationship we need to have faith. This is true in terms of friendships. At some point an ordinary person becomes someone we trust. We place faith that a friend will be loyal to us. We place faith in a friend to support us when we are struggling. We place faith in our ability to do the same for them. To another person, our friend would more than likely seem quite ordinary. But when we become their friend, they are anything but ordinary. They are awesome. They are someone that allows us to love and to be loved.
Jesus wants very much to do extraordinary things for you. He is longing for a relationship with you. He longs to take from you those burdens you carry every day. His love is so powerful for us he wants to forgive our sins. In every way God wants us to grow closer to him. Will you take his ordinary invitation and accept something quite extraordinary?
Now why did those in Nazareth become angry? Because they did not want to change. Jesus was much too ordinary. And when he pointed out to them those who were able to see clearly God’s presence in their lives, they were cut to the quick. But rather than consider what he said, they became angry and drove him out of their lives. Today you face the exact same choice. You can allow Jesus to let you know where you can change and grow, becoming the person you were made to be, or you can get angry and drive him out of your life. Jesus will never stop loving you. Choose to let him into your heart today, and celebrate this faith in the Church.