Commentary on the Gospel of
Today’s readings offer a potential starting place for those worrying about the future. I would like to live in a world where the good and the just are rewarded in short term. I would like a simple path to security in this life. That is not what I experience. When I encounter hard times or the events of the world do not go the way that I that they should, I can find myself beginning to wonder if God has abandoned me.
These readings remind me that material success is not the mark of God’s servants in this world. Rather, the mark is accepting the importance of the relationship with God even in times of trouble. This is my view of faith. When my desire for pressing on in God’s service falters, I am consoled by St. Ignatius’ insight on the value of just the desire to have that desire to respond to God’s call. Mother Theresa provides the saintly example of not giving up on God even when not feeling God’s presence.
Reflecting on the passage from Hebrews, I am reminded that Abel is murdered and Noah’s world is destroyed. Consider the lives of the men who are glorified in the Transfiguration in today’s Gospel. Moses, the lawgiver, must endure in the desert never making it to the Promised Land. At one point Moses expresses a sense of being completely overwhelmed. Elijah, the prophet, needs to go into hiding. His sense of apparent failure puts him into a deep depression. Both Moses and Elijah ask God to take their lives if things do not improve. Jesus will be crucified. The night before he wonders if he can be spared the suffering. These are the “heroes” of salvation history.
I think of my late “Uncle Bernard”. “Uncle Bernard” was not really my uncle, but he earned that name in my family. He was an immigrant to the United States from Austria-Hungary as a child. Although he was a talented mathematician, world events did not give him the opportunities that he might have had under other circumstances. During the World War he left his PhD studies and enlisted to serve his adopted country by doing artillery calculations, which would be used to battle tyranny and injustice in his place of birth. During his life history, the Great Depression and the lack of a doctorate degree kept his career from advancing as it might have. Still he was a kind man who saw himself as a servant of others. He ended up living with his brother and sister-in-law. I don’t think that this was the life that he would have imagined. His buoyancy always impressed me as did his willingness to help out in ways that one might felt was below his intellectual stature. He never gave up. He kept stepping in and patiently helping people working, in his way, to make the world a better place. I have always felt the appropriateness of his resting place, Valhalla Cemetery – Valhalla, the hall of heroes.