Reflection for Tuesday, August 3, 2010: 18th week in Ordinary Time.

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Authors
Burke-Sullivan, Eileen
Issue Date
2010-08-03
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Essay
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en_US
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For many years I have experienced fears similar to those of the disciples during the "fourth watch of the night" - that time between 3:00 AM and dawn. In winter and in summer awakening in that darkest part of the night often after moonset and before the paleness of false dawn I awaken and feel fear of the storms (or possible storms) that seem to surround my life. Fear of not having done enough, fear for those I love (and for whom I can do nothing but pray in this situation), fear about my own future, fear that something important is due and not finished - you name it, my "4 O'clock demon" wants to diminish peace and joy in being human, wants to bring me to despair, or simply wants to make me miserable. Even though I personify the feeling I don't really think of it as another creature so much as that enemy of human flourishing that dwells in my own less-than-courageous self that would be chided by Jesus' "you of little faith." It's not that I have no faith - to say so would be to dishonor the wondrous gift of faith that God has given me through the Holy Spirit in Baptism, but I certainly can be one of "little faith" - that is one who allows spiritual desolation to take hold. Sometimes I remain like the other disciples, and huddle in the boat wondering if the winds and the waves of challenge surrounding my life will completely swamp me, but once in awhile I have the small courage of Peter who says to Jesus "command me to come to you."||These days in the Christian community we need lots of folks with the courage of Peter. His at this moment of this story is not a great courage, but it is a wise courage. That is, he trusts his limited insight and tests whether what he sees is Jesus by asking him to give him the command that he is familiar with - "Come." Perhaps he hears the Lord say "get out of the boat and walk on that stormy water - I will give you my power to do so." That certainly is what he is willing to do. How many of us instead of asking for the truth of the vision in front of us huddle in the boat of the familiar way of doing things - unwilling and too frightened to test the new possibilities suggested by this way of experiencing Christ. There are new challenges, new ways of hearing and following the Spirit of Christ leading us that seem not to be "solid" enough that we are not willing to even try to discern where the Lord is in the event or experience.|Christ's coming to us will often be in demanding, stretching, challenging ways - calling us out of the false securities within which we huddle in fear - but it at least is a fear we know. But what will we miss? Jeremiah gives us the clue at the end of today's reading after we have thought about our sin and unworthiness: "When I summon him [or her] that one will approach me; how else should one take the deadly risk of approaching me? Says the Lord." It is a deadly risk to respond to Jesus' terrifying call - but what will die is crippling fear, do-nothing obstructionism, failure to grow and flourish, righteous certainty in something from the past that gives me security - in other words the very wounds that the Lord refers to earlier in the reading that have kept us from him.|So my 3:00 or 4:00 AM demon is the voice within me that doesn't want to take the time to discern whether it is Jesus who calls me to some new and challenging task - the task of loving more deeply, responding more enthusiastically, trying something new and dangerous - and life giving! It is the fear that doesn't want me to risk even praying to find out what the Spirit calls me to. It is the silent dread that refuses the work of opening my heart and mind to the call to "Come." God spare me from that voice - or at least give me Peter's modest faith that tremulously asks "If it is you, command me to come," that would be enough for me.
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University Ministry, Creighton University.
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These reflections may not be sold or used commercially without permission. Personal or parish use is permitted.
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