Memorial, St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Scripture Readings for November 17, 2017

Wisdom 13:1-9, Psalm 19: 2-5, Luke 17:26-37

It took me awhile but after working through today’s readings a couple times I came to the conclusion that they are mostly about our missing the point. The readings from Wisdom and Luke’s Gospel seem to come together around how even lovely and pleasant everyday things can distract us from our ultimate objective. Do we notice God behind the scenes or are we simply caught up in the beauty and utility of life around us?

The reading from Wisdom is quite elegant in describing how fire, wind and the luminaries of the sky were thought to be gods in and of themselves. The author names the issue explicitly, “they are distracted by what they see.” The beautiful and powerful forces of nature can be appreciated for themselves but we shouldn’t stop at a superficial analysis. We should acknowledge the even more powerful and inspiring God that created them.

The same is of course true when Jesus is talking about how we live our lives. It is easy to be so caught up with buying, selling, eating, drinking, getting married, caught up in all the good things, that we miss the point of the exercise. Doing what God put us here to do. What’s more we can’t be clever about picking and choosing our time for compliance. There’s no radar detector that will tell us when the state trooper is waiting to catch us speeding. We have to adopt an ongoing attitude of care for others, which is the way God operates, or we are likely to get caught at the most ordinary of moments with the call to eternal life.

I don’t think we should interpret this as God’s effort to catch us when we least expect it. No, Jesus is trying to restate and make it clear for human relationships what Wisdom has already said, that beneath the surface of all that happens, God is part of the picture. I think today the question could be: Are we noticing God and God’s desire for us as we go about each day’s activities, each day’s decisions. If we think we can wait until later or another time to bring God into the picture, there’s no way to go back and rescue what we have neglected. All we can ever do is deal with what is presented to us today. Are we acting now, the way we know God asks us to act? Are we paying attention to the needs to which love and justice expect us to respond? Who crosses our path that we could help? What happens in our part of the world that we could change? God may not expect us to change the whole world. However, God does expect us to live in our part of it as one who cares and sacrifices to make it better.

Let’s not miss the point of our life, let’s go below the surface and recognize all that God provides and all that God asks us to do as well.

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