21 July 2016
I heard someone say that: The world is “ripe” to hear the gospel, because people today are in touch with their desires. And what he meant was that, since God is the fulfillment of our desires, people are ready to hear what God has to offer. Of course, if people have already decided that God is unfulfilling, then the gospel really isn’t the answer to their desires.
For some people today—I don’t know how many, but at least some, if not many people have already “tried” God; they’ve “tried” faith and Church . . . and were not overly impressed. God did not satisfy. And so, they went looking elsewhere for satisfaction, for life and happiness. Maybe even we’ve done that from time to time.
There’s always the temptation to replace God with something else; something more fulfilling, or more exciting, or more worldly—something that matches our standards for happiness, at least, for the moment. Even in the parish and the Church we can do that—unintentionally, of course.
One of the most difficult aspects of parish life is prayer and spirituality among the faithful. Maybe it’s too abstract, it’s not concrete enough, it’s too wishy-washy . . . I don’t know. But where the focus of our efforts should be on the spiritual well-being of all, and the fostering of relationship with the Lord, so often we get focused on the “concrete” things of parish life.
You know, it’s much more engaging to debate about the budget, or to get into discussions and disagreements about who should be doing what, and who answers to whom, and the politics of Church life. It’s more satisfying to set our own goals and measures of how our lives should be as Catholics. It’s fulfilling to say we want to have fifty more families in the parish this year, and then to reach that goal. That’s fulfilling. That’s satisfying.
But what about God? As the Lord said through Jeremiah: “My people have forsaken me, the source of living waters; they have dug for themselves broken cisterns that hold no water.” Can’t our relationship with God be fulfilling? Do we always have to find satisfaction elsewhere? And that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy the life God has given us. It just means we should remember that it’s God who is the Source of everything we have and are.
The everyday affairs of life aren’t the source of our happiness; God himself is. And, until the world accepts that, there will be restlessness in people’s hearts. Our hearts will be restless, until they rest in God [from St. Augustine].