Friday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 321

"This is how it is with the Kingdom of God;
it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day
and the seed would sprout and grow,
he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.

Perhaps it was the great German psychiatrist Karl Jung who persuaded me that we really don't know what's going on. As I recall, he differed with Sigmund Freud's idea of a "subconscious." Jung believed there is a great "unconscious" which drives much of our behavior. We think we're doing certain things for certain reasons but we really are clueless about our true motives and true aims. 

Jung went further, trying to create a "map" of the unconscious. He found common symbols and legends in the dreams of his psychiatric clients. Though they didn't know one another their dreams were similar, and their dreams resembled certain ancient myths and images that art historians trace through thousands of years. These archetypes are common to all nations and ethnic peoples; they are rooted in our human consciousness rather than any cultural experience.    

These impulses, which are largely unconscious, drive us to act in certain patterns which are not entirely rational, which would defy explanation without Jung's "archetypes." 

Jesus' parable of the farmer who scatters seed on the land and cannot explain how it germinates, sprouts, flowers and bears fruit should remind us that we are pathetically ignorant of the larger plan. Given our short stature we cannot see beyond the horizon, and the horizon is very close. 

  • How could executives of German automaker Volkswagen -- presumably intelligent and certainly overpaid -- have thought they could cheat on American EPA standards and get away with it? How close was their horizon that they could not see the inevitable? 
  • How can speculators -- including international banks -- be caught up in inflationary cycles time after time and not recognize them until they collapse? 
  • How could so many investors not recognize Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme? No one can pay ten percent dividends year after year! 
  • How can our intelligence communities not see popular movements in Iraq, England or the United States and not expect the upheavals? (The overthrow of the Shah, Brexit, Trump) 

The simple explanation, of course, is Original Sin. I simply cannot see how my greed, lust, avarice, cowardice or envy distorts my vision and drives my behavior. The Blessed will recognize their blindness in retrospect; though many people never have even that much insight. 

The Holy Spirit teaches us to be suspicious of our motives and ask God for guidance day by day. Perhaps we may learn from experience, which has been defined as, "Recognizing that I've made this mistake before." 

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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.