Daily Reflection
July 8th, 2006

Kristina DeNeve

Cardoner at Creighton
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Amos 9:11-15
Psalm 85:9ab and 10, 11-12, 13-14
Matthew 9:14-17

Reflecting on today’s passages, I was drawn to the question that begins today’s Gospel reading from Matthew, “The disciples of John approached Jesus and said, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?” While reflecting, I remembered a trip that I took in the middle of this past May. The program I direct for Creighton is funded by a grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc., the philanthropic foundation that is funded by Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals. Annually, I am asked by Lilly Endowment Inc. to attend a conference regarding our grant program. Historically, these meetings take place in Indianapolis in the fall. But, this spring, I was asked to fly to a luxurious resort and spa in Scottsdale, Arizona. When I arrived at the resort, I was overwhelmed by its opulence. This was definitely a resort and spa that matched all the stereotypes I had heard about gorgeous Arizona spas. The atrium was amazing, the buildings that housed guests were sprinkled throughout a small campus that was incredibly landscaped, and immense water fountains, pools, and sitting areas sloped all through the exterior of the campus. Even though I have stayed at nice hotels before, I was again overwhelmed with the luxury of my actual room. This was the first time I have stayed somewhere that provided my room with a large flat panel, LCD, high definition TV. And the bathroom truly looked like ones I have only seen in housekeeping magazines. (Hopefully you have the image now of the luxury I felt enveloping me.)

Given this wonderful environment, I was surprised by my reaction. When I first walked into the atrium at the resort, my heart sank. Although tastefully decorated, the resort seemed exorbitant to me. When I saw the fountains and pools as I walked to my room, my heart saddened more. I felt like I could not possibly enjoy myself there. By the time I got to my room, my stomach literally was tight, tied in knots.

I called a dear relative and started telling her about my feelings. While talking with her, I realized that I was like a disciple of John the Baptist or a Pharisee from this gospel. I was feeling like I could not let myself enjoy this extravagance, this gift of a resort that was being given to me. I felt angry that the foundation was spending its money so frivolously on me when it could spend it instead on their wonderful religious initiatives. I felt like I could not open up and enjoy myself unless I had more modest accommodations.

The rest of the gospel passage offers us all the grace that my relative was able to offer me that day. Jesus points out in response to this question of fasting that there is a time for everything. When at a wedding, it is time to celebrate (and, beyond that, to celebrate with gusto!) When encountering something new, like a luxurious resort or a fresh wine, it needs to be treated with respect to its newness and freshness. It needs to be experienced in its own right, and not filtered through another, older experience. And, when encountering something that is not new and may even be in poor shape (something like a torn cloak) we need to be respectful of the history and life that ultimately led to its current state. And, if we decide to try to repair what we see as broken, we must do so by working with the brokenness in its own right (repairing a piece of cloth with matching cloth). Jesus teaches us to live life with joy and gratitude and to use things as they are given to us – celebrating what should be celebrated, creating new-ness when we experience something new, and treading lightly and respectfully when we deem something in need of repair.

Oh yes, there is a moral to my story as well: as my time wore on, I enjoyed the spa more and more. The last night I was there, I learned that because we were staying at this resort in May, we were actually staying there during the off-season. I learned that the cost for the “luxury” resort was actually LESS than the Midwestern accommodations I am used to. Thank goodness that God helped me enjoy what was given me…..or I would have not enjoyed a resort that was actually CHEAPER than any other conference I have attended with this program! God often finds me in humorous ironies – this one was no different – ha!!

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response
to the writer of this reflection.
Let Your Friends Know About This Reflection By Sending Them An E-mail


Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook