Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?”
“We are all born original,
but many die as photocopies”
Our human experience teaches us that nothing on earth can fully satisfy us. We are always looking for something more, seeking whatever will make us into the “who” we dream of being, usually a dull photocopy of stereotypical human successes reflected in people who have power, possessions and status.
Life on earth is often described as a journey and the image rings true for us. In our more trying moments we feel like directionless wanderers, tossed about by every demand and desire. On our better days we might be pilgrims with a clear road and a worthwhile destination.
Something inside us refuses to accept that nothing on earth can satisfy us. To deal with our need for satisfaction we set achievable goals that provide some direction, and when we reach a goal we enjoy a few hours satisfaction before we re-programme ourselves towards another destination.
But in our more insightful moments we glimpse the truth: we are simply chasing mirages.
Our problem is that while we know we need a goal to give our life direction and motivation, we make the mistake of settling for artificial and fickle goals that are powerless to deliver what they promise.
As Pope Francis reflected a couple of weeks ago in the prayer service prompted by the coronavirus:
“[This coronavirus] storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities. It shows us how we have allowed to become dull and feeble the very things that nourish, sustain and strengthen our lives and our communities. The tempest lays bare all our prepackaged ideas and forgetfulness of what nourishes our people’s souls; all those attempts that anaesthetise us with ways of thinking and acting that supposedly “save” us, but instead prove incapable of putting us in touch with our roots and keeping alive the memory of those who have gone before us. We deprive ourselves of the antibodies we need to confront adversity.
“In this storm, the façade of those stereotypes with which we camouflaged our egos, always worrying about our image, has fallen away, uncovering once more that (blessed) common belonging, of which we cannot be deprived: our belonging as brothers and sisters. (full text at this link)
You might have heard the story of the Mexican fisherman who rose early and fished for a couple of hours to catch enough to feed his family and to maintain his simple peaceful lifestyle. The rest of the day he gave to his family, often doing little more than sitting on their humble verandah reading to the children, spending time with friends, and sipping his homemade brew.
A great entrepreneur met the man fishing on the rocks one morning and suggested that if he bought a boat he could catch more fish and gain more profit.
“Why would I do that?” asked the fisherman.
“So that you could move to the United States and start a fishing company and open franchises to earn more money” the businessman replied.
“Why would I do that?” asked the fisherman.
“Well, so you could then retire and sit on the verandah, spending time with your family and friends and drinking beer.”
If St Peter had known about the Mexican fisherman he might have used him as an example in his sermon (today’s first reading) to the Jews who accept that they have killed the one who was the answer to their searching. Peter gives them a bit of a reprimand, but then it is clear that they understand what Peter is getting at:
“Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart,
and they asked Peter and the other Apostles,
“What are we to do, my brothers?”
Peter said to them,
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you”
We usually misunderstand the word “repent” reducing it to mean a readjustment of our behaviour to align with a religious or moral code. But the verb “metanoia” (the Greek used in this passage) is more accurately translated as a change of mind or embracing a new understanding and new possibilities.
This embracing of new possibilities requires letting go of our little thinking and a firm decision not to chase mirages…
15 minute Lectio Divina using on today’s Easter Tuesday gospel. Simply relax, prepare, press play, and pray.
Put simply: a suggestion especially for fathers and grandfathers …
The book “Hope for the Flowers” is a great way to help children to set goals that are robust, and to live as an Original rather than a Photocopy. You might like to read it to the children in your bubble, or children in another household using Skype or Zoom. The full text of the little book is available by clicking on the book cover below.
John,Thank you for this it is heartwarming and beautiful And oh so true.I love the story at the end and will send it on to family and friends God bless you for your ministry Marg
I have an old ragged copy of Hope for the Flowers – inspirational for me decades ago, but still very relevant. I believe we as church are going through this process of metanoia, being transformed into a new way of connecting as community, becoming something new. Thank you for your daily inspiration which is becoming an important part for so many of us accompanying us on this journey.
Thank you for helping to keep our eyes on Jesus. I am loving the Lecto Divinia. I had forgotten just how much silence and reflection supports daily life.
Oh, for the Bread of Heaven – we just wait for flour
I so agree that the idea of looking at things in a different way is such a great way to move out from under despair and disappointment.
As usual John your insights are spot on, and as I read them I thought of the slightly daft economic imperative to grow grow grow that the fisherman did not understand – I also thought of the story (possibly apocryphal) that Picasso could not write the number 7 , as he could only see an upside down nose. Jesus’ sermon on the mount was, in the New Testament context, an example of His looking at things in a radically different way. Thank you for carrying on your spiritual guidance.