Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Disturb Us Lord

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

We often overlook those moments when God speaks to us, those times when He “disturbs” our lives and shakes us out of our slumber and complacency. To be honest, we often hate to move out of our well-defined and secure comfort zone. Could it be that we miss those moments because we tend to look for dramatic evidence of God’s direction, when ordinary instances abound, if only we were aware of them? Or could we be that we perceive that the goal of our faith is to acquire blissful moments of pure relaxation, free of all disturbances or trouble.  Most of us would certainly not dare to utter a prayer such as this:

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

This prayer was originally written by the British seaman and explorer Sir Francis Drake, regarded as a war-hero to the English but viewed as a notorious pirate to the Spanish. Whether viewed as either a hero or villain, a saint or sinner, the prayer of Francis Drake resonates with the experiences of the persons figured in today’s readings. These are stories of persons not disturbed by the troubles of the world. These are stories of persons disturbed by grace. These are stories of how the Prince of Peace comes to disturb our peace. If the Prince of Peace is to bring real peace, he must expose the contradictions that are robbing us of that real peace, and expose himself to the angry denials and hostility of those who are exposed.  

In the first reading, we have Samuel, who’s slumber has been disturbed by none other than God himself who calls him to a prophetic ministry that would thereafter define his life. From the secure and risks free life as a priest’s apprentice, he is now summoned by God to the often dangerous task of appointing kings, challenging them and finally revoking the mandate that had been granted by God to rule the nation. The Lord has come to disturb Samuel from his peaceful slumber so that he may disturb the conscience of the king and the nation and call them to repentance in order to liberate them from the evil that had enslaved them.

In the gospel, the first disciples of Jesus are called. Their contented lives as disciples of another renowned preacher, St John the Baptist, is shaken up and disturbed by the call to follow the Lamb of God. Let us not be mistaken by the gentle and harmless appearance of this lamb. It is the Lamb of the Book of Revelation, which has come to judge the world and destroy evil. It is the lamb, prophesied by Isaiah, who will be led to slaughter and his vicarious suffering would prove to be redemptive and salvific. He is the new Paschal Lamb whose blood will not only save an enslaved Israel but lead the whole of humanity from slavery to sin into the freedom of being made children of God. This is no soft cuddly pet, but the One who has come to set the hearts of his followers aflame with the fire of God’s love.

These men’s cautious distance would be upended when Jesus turns around and puts a disturbing question to them, “What are you looking for?” Isn’t this the perennial question of every searching soul? It is as if they cannot put into the words the deep longings and stirrings within their heart, that they ask a question in return,” Master, where do you live?” In reply, Jesus issues the invitation which he issues to all of us, “Come and see!” Only one who accompanies will see.  Jesus’ invitation was more than social niceties or oriental hospitality.

To “come and see” is to recognise that we have fallen in love with life and all its illusions, and we have lost our thirst for the waters of life. To “come and see” means to be disturbed and shaken out of our accustomed comfort with sin. To “come and see” means to widen our vision beyond what seems familiar to us. To come and see means going out on a limb into unchartered territories. To come and see means to abandon everything in order that we may possess everything in the person of Christ, the treasure beyond compare. The call of the gospel reveals to us the breathtaking glory and loveliness of God, and in so doing, it lures our heart away from love of self and leaves us enthralled by Him instead. 

If you are lost, confused and without direction, come and see. If you have wondered if there really can be meaning to this life, come and see. If you ache with a pain that soaks up any good feelings, come and see. And even if you are feeling deliriously happy, content, and full beyond compare, still come and see. To be honest, there are no adequate words to describe the experience of being in the presence of a living God, a loving God, a creator God who knows us without qualification, and a saving God who loves us just as we are. A love that is unyielding in its desire for you. A power beyond measure. Not in coercive control of our actions, but in deep compassion for our being. It is peace. Real peace. Satisfying enduring peace. It is very unlike the peace of the world, the kind of peace that you are often fighting to preserve. In finding this peace, we come to understand the prayer of St Augustine, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

Today, Jesus continues to ask, “What are you looking for?” and to challenge, “come and See!” the disturbing but transforming power of his grace is still present and his Spirit is still calling disciples. You will only hear his voice when you are ready to be disturbed by his grace. We come to realise that even in our sin, failure and limitation, we do not have to journey to find an elusive God. We have only to turn into our hearts to find the God who never stops calling us, the God who never stops disturbing us, the God who never stops searching for the lost sheep, because this is a God who will never stop loving us.
“Disturb us, Lord … Disturb us!”

1 comment:

  1. Father, are you sure this is Francis Drake? t seems much too modern and California for an Elizabethan educated pirate.


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