Spirituality of the Readings
How can it be that the “typical questions” of children pass down from generation to generation? Our family car was half way to Colorado and I was about six or seven and I clearly remember asking my mother that famous, time-honed question, “Mommy, are we there yet?” It was a real question, and I wasn’t quoting someone else.
Or so I thought.
By now I have heard child after child ask exactly the same question of a parent, in exactly the same words. Maybe it is an innate instinct, like geese flying south or robins jerking up worms.
As we become mature we human beings learn to wait, to live with the “not yet.” We call it “delayed gratification.” I may want to be at home, for instance, but to get there from work, I might have to walk to the bus stop, wait for the #10, surrender my fee, stand until there is a seat, sit down at long last, wait some more, get off, walk 50 blocks (it seems), unlock my door, and finally, finally, finally, finally, put up my feet and relax. Some days this can be annoying, but usually “I get used to it,” as we say.
But we shouldn’t get overly used to it. That is the point of this week’s readings. Since we are not children, we can overlook the joy or pleasure that comes when our goal finally arrives, because our minds have for so long looked away. These won’t get fulfilled very soon anyway. Do you ever remember to taste the food when you finally get your dinner at a restaurant? Did you remember to enjoy in quiet detail the friend you haven’t seen in a year? Or do you let a false delay squash longing and fulfillment?
Sunday’s First Reading reminds us peacefully and beautifully to watch for God at dawn; to keep vigil because Wisdom (the Holy Spirit of God) is searching for those who are waiting. God's wisdom “meets them with all solicitude.” The Responsorial Psalm boldly names our craving for God. The antiphon says, “My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.” And the Gospel adds, stay awake! Make preparations. Do not be foolish. Do not forget to be ready.
Let’s face it. You and I desire God more than anything else. At the center of our souls is a thirst that will never be satisfied unless the God of all creation comes in person to be living water for us.
We live like parched ground without rain. We have huge fractures in our surface. Our souls ache for the gentle, courteous and tender outpouring God wants to provide—not like hurricanes or floods, but like a mother with her newborn.
“Your kindness is a greater good than life,” the psalm says to God.
What? Life is so essential, so to be preserved, so valuable, that we fight like cornered rats when it is threatened. Still, even so, in spite of all our flurry, God’s delicious kindness is a far greater good than anything else we know, greater even than being alive. It is worth the wait, no matter how long.
So, we need to be excited like a child. We can say, “I want” like kids do. But also, we can be calm like an adult. We know that when our desires are thwarted we just need to wait for wisdom, which waits for us.
John Foley, SJ
Fr. John Foley, SJ is a composer and scholar at Saint Louis University.
**From Saint Louis University