(For the audio version of this blog, please visit: http://brothersinchristcmf.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Mass-Blog-for-the-2nd-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-2022.mp3)
Organizations—even church organizations—are often hobbled by letting perfect become the enemy of the good they wish to achieve. That old proverb has a more modern equivalent in faulty business management: “But we’ve always done it that way.”
As we enter a new year, both philosophies should form the basis of a resolution: to be guided by the Holy Spirit instead of humanity’s time-bound rituals.
Being guided by our history rather than spirit can cause us to ignore the fact that God often answers our prayers via non-conventional means. That’s how Jesus came into the world, after all—being born in the little town of Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth, of which one of Jesus’ first disciples once asked “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
But as the prophet Isaiah implies in Sunday’s first reading (Is 62:1-5), the low expectations of the world’s powers would soon be raised by this region’s vindication—a word defined as “justification.” Jesus was God’s answer to that prayer of the lowly.
For Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch. Nations shall behold your vindication, and all the kings your glory; you shall be called by a new name pronounced by the mouth of the LORD. … You shall be called “My Delight, “ and your land “Espoused.”
That is why being guided by spirit rather than history is good business, whether in business or in the life of the faithful. As Paul reminds the Corinthians (1 Cor 12:4-11), God’s spirit manifests itself in us in many ways, and the most humble among us—like the town of Nazareth—can be a powerful answer to prayer.
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.
Even Jesus, before he embarked on his public life of miracles, might not have seen how a little domestic problem at a wedding feast could turn into His Father’s way of making a powerful statement about problem solving (Jn 2:1-11). That lesson came to Jesus, and to us, through his mother’s faith in the annunciation that began the process of humanity’s salvation—and vindication.
When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Wise advice when it comes to the Holy Spirit—sent to be not only our soul’s vindicator, but our counselor. Be open to it, whatever form it takes.
A saying I often hear Is to be “as good as necessary, not as good as possible. Or 90% is still an A. Yet Jesus tells us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.
In our broken world it seems nearly impossible to attain perfection. Perhaps the answer is to take up our cross daily and do our best to imitate Christ. That could be sufficient.
Christ’s parable of the talents tells us God is aware of our differing capabilities. To one servant the master gives 10 talents, to another 5 and another 1. The one with 1 is so afraid of screwing up he doesn’t even try. People like that get a failing grade. Those who try get extra credit–and a share in their Master’s joy.
In these challenging times we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit more than ever
Ron, in this crazy world the real challenge seems to be remembering to open our soul to spiritual guidance through daily prayer and meditation.