26th Sunday Ordinary Time — September 26, 2009
In today’s gospel Jesus is confronting human natures ability to create a captivity and control box, a jail. When we are young our human capacity to understand God is limited yet we automatically try and wrap our arms around this God of ours. In doing so, we unknowingly create a treasure box for God and others. Unfortunately some are locked in and some locked out. Later in life this treasure box can to limit our spiritual growth to the size of the box we chose.
Did you know we all have such a treasure box? Some have a little bitty box and some of have a bigger box. Let me assure you each of us has their own box. At some point in our life we settled in on, who we think God is, how he operates and we then put God in our box and locked some folks out. Then we tend to keep him there because we are comfortable with who we decided he was. But eventually in life the good Lord will place us in a situation where he makes us uncomfortable because God wants us to understand he cannot be contained within our limited understanding self defined box.
From the book of Numbers we hear the Lord came in a cloud, took some of the spirit of Moses and bestowed it on the seventy elders. Joshua, Moses longtime closest aide was one of them. We hear Joshua, one of the chosen ones complain. Eldad and Medad, two who were outside the gathering had prophesied in the camp – stop them! Please Moses get them out of our box!
Again in the gospel of Mark, we hear John, the beloved disciple, tell Jesus. Teacher someone is driving out demons in your name. We tried to stop him because he does not follow us, tell them to get out of our treasure box!
In these readings we see human natures reaction to a confrontation with this treasure box, pettiness, arrogance and envy. Times like these are teaching moments. Jesus wants us to know those of good will who are not against us, are to be treated as being with us. We are being called to tolerance and openness. Jesus wants our limited human created box to be stretched. One day we will find ourselves in a situation that will make us uncomfortable so we can see clearly the arbitrary human limitations we place on him.
Break open your box, set me free from your confounded self defined box which in truth is purely an illusion that exists only in your mind.
This week end, we are also holding our parish stewardship fair. Guess what is true about Catholic stewardship? Yes each of us also has a stewardship captivity box. This box may have been defined long ago and over time some of us have added an iron reinforced concrete layer to protect our inner self from any penetration! Some are putting up road blocks as I speak.
The spirit of God cannot be contained. Release God and he will open your spirit and stretch the size of your box beyond your wildest imagination to the degree we open our hearts!
I have a promising antidote, a box expanding opener. It has the potential to spring God lose from our self limiting captivity box and begin to cut a hole in the concrete reinforced walls of our stewardship box! Let’s call this a kind of spiritual of cash for clunkers program. We will be trading in the stubbornness of the human heart for joy now and salvation later.
Are you willing to take a risk and give this antidote a try?
I have some lyrics I will say the words first and then I want you sing the refrain after me. Are you ready for the antidote?
I’m trading my sorrow — I’m trading my shame — I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord
I’m trading my sickness –I’m trading my pain — I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord
Yes Lord, yes Lord, yes yes Lord.
There is a positive impact from saying a simple yes to the Lord. As the Yes travels from the tips of the tongue down it startles and wakes up the spirit of the soul triggering a natural opening and stretching of the size of the box to handle the possibilities of the hazards of the risk just spoken. As the reality of yes reaches the living, beating chambers of our heart it expands to transform our box into a spirit filled room of potential unending capacity.
No one gets bumped out as new travelers begin to fill the room.