10 Minute Daily Retreat - Read the Daily Gospel with a prayerful heart.
By Louise Crossley (No.166)
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke 12:54-59
Interpreting the Times
He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?
“Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled on the way, or your adversary may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”
Again, the Gospel reading I have to reflect upon is especially relevant and somewhat confronting to me. Jesus’ words: ‘How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?’ Has echoed in my heart for the last few days.
I've pondered on: '...this present time' and believe that Jesus may not be referring to the era we live in here but perhaps to where each of us have been and are, in our journey through life.
I’ve often wondered how God measures the good and bad in a person when it seems such an uneven race. Some of us are born to wonderful families, have great experiences and marry amazing people. While some of us are not taught fundamental rights and wrongs and experience much adversity. It seems to me that Jesus’ words in this Gospel underpin this point. When he says: ‘…this present time’ he is asking us to evaluate our own life experiences and decide for ourselves if we are ‘hypocrites’.
Before I divorced I considered myself a good person. I looked after my family and was faithful to my husband. It didn’t occur to me that the resentment that I had built in my heart towards my husband, the bitterness I was beginning to feel about my situation, and the half a person I had allowed myself to become from the unhappy marriage was not good.
My point is that sometimes we are blind sighted by what we consider to be: ‘not so bad’ behaviour, and allow society’s opinion regarding common sins to disregard the sin itself and we don’t feel remorseful. In fact, sometimes we don’t even acknowledge we’ve sinned at all.
My divorce and my current relationship has taught me that even though my life now is faulted, my life before was too. The difference is that before, I rested on the fallacy that common sins are acceptable to God and He will turn a blind eye. But who put a ranking on the commandments?
I think this may be the reason why imperfect people have been chosen by God as our example. Rehab the prostitute, Sampson the womaniser, David the adulterer, were possibly motivated by their sins to work harder for God. Perhaps being confronted by their sins drove them to show devotion in other ways ‘…until (they had) paid the last penny’.
In a perfect life, the ultimate goal is to restrain from any sin: big, small, common or not, and this world is still graced with people like that. People who endure suffering and still find the motivation to reflect love and positivity. People who do not become bitter, whose heart is not damaged by this world’s temptation and hardship.
But there are also people like me who are affected by these things but still love God and want to please Him.
The key could be to speak personally with God every day and pray that he will have mercy on us and our weaknesses. I know that without a personal relationship with Him I would have become disheartened and turned away.
Instead, and because of my faults, I try to be more patient, more considerate, more thoughtful, in my life ‘…until (I have) paid the last penny’.
So sometimes, ‘the present time’ is to take action and not allow struggles to paralyse us in doing God’s work.
After all, paying back a penny or two is better than giving up and consequently bankrupting our souls.
5 minutes: READ the text slowly.
REFLECT on a phrase or word that struck you.
SPEAK to God about your thoughts.
5 minutes: LISTEN to God speak to you.
RESPOND with a prayer that feels right for you.
Next Reflection: Susanne TimpaniOctober 25th, 2015