Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul, Priest

Lectionary: 456

When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled,
he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,
and he sent messengers ahead of him.

 
Last Friday we heard the song of the Wise Man Qoheleth which might be called “The Appointed Time.” Pete Seeger put it to music in the late 1950’s and when the Byrds recorded it, Turn,Turn,Turn became an international hit. The thought, both optimistic and fatalistic, seems to appeal to many spiritualities.

The wise person is the one who knows the time and can act gracefully; the fool does not know the time and is always out of sync. He wears heavy clothes to the beach in July, and goes jogging in a t-shirt in January. She wears rags to a wedding and evening gowns to a hay ride.

Jesus of Nazareth -- Wisdom Incarnate and thus a wise man like Qoheleth -- always knew the time. So “when the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.”

Saint Paul called this “a mysterious, a hidden wisdom.”

Rather, we speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory, and which none of the rulers of this age knew; for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

The Christian strives to know the time. Our liturgical seasons teach us that awareness as we learn confident hope during Advent, joyous satisfaction during Christmas, grief and remorse for our sins during Lent, and overwhelming, grateful relief at Easter. This Ordinary season with its many saints’ days orient us in this time between Pentecost and the Parousia. We have heard the good news; we know it’s not yet fulfilled. Knowing the time we act accordingly.

Knowing this is the time when our expectations are not yet fulfilled, we can live with the dissatisfactions of hunger, pain, longing, grief and so forth. It’s okay to feel these things. I can say, “There is nothing wrong with me or my loved ones that I feel this way. Nor should my family, job, government or world be totally satisfactory; the time of fulfillment is not yet!”

Without that sense of time, I may feel great dissatisfaction with the way things are. I may use chemicals to satisfy my longing for pleasure; I might threaten or harm people in my quest for justification or vindication; I may wander from Kentucky to Katmandu looking for the Kingdom of God in this world. And, despite all these adventures, I will know only disappointment.

Knowing the time I can wait with a better sense of what I should do in the meantime. Especially in imitation of Christ the Christian is open to the impulses of the Holy Spirit. That Spirit can direct us to say and do the right thing at the right time even when we don’t understand what is going on around us.

How many times have you been told, “Thank you! What you said (or did) was precisely what I needed?” That was the Holy Spirit revealing in us a “a mysterious, a hidden wisdom.”  

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.