Just a Word… Third Sunday in Ordinary Time…

Just a word… Third Sunday in Ordinary Time… January 24, 2021

“Where can we find light in this never-ending shade?,” asks the young poet laureate. Indeed, if we consider our 11 month battle with the corona virus as the shade, we might employ other metaphors as well, for instance, winter. We are wintering, as author Katherine May would call it, through the darkness, searching for the light of what will become the new normal. Time drags, we look and see that the weeks and months have passed, yet we sometimes feel as though we are stuck in the mire of last March, unbelieving yet bracing for, the reality of an unknowable period of time, that would shake our normal lives and undermine many of our institutions, livelihoods, and families.

How do humans deal with shade? How do they come to the other side of it, and what happens in the time between the two? We are all so different, and there is no formula for surviving and eventually thriving, although I suspect that having a community of support through the dark times can help. Perhaps enduring shade can provide us with an opportunity to reflect on our lives, to ponder what it is we really need, and how we would like to live once we are on the other side. However we choose to use the time of shade, there is no question that it is an ordeal that can either cripple us or form us into stronger, more thoughtful, kind and compassionate persons. The choice is ours.

Our readings today give us figures who are dealing with shades of different sorts. Jonah is actively avoiding the Lord’s desire to save the Ninevites, running from his call until he is literally spat upon the shore of the place where he will grudgingly preach the repentance that will save the city. And our Gospel shows us the calling of the fishermen who are imaged as suddenly recognizing the light that is Jesus and following their call to join him. Of the two situations, perhaps Jonah’s shade is more apparent, however, it can be presumed that those called to join Jesus did some soul-searching and wrestling, within themselves and perhaps within their families, before signing on.

What about us? If we are to break through whatever our particular shade might be, and leave a legacy of love and light, as is our calling from Jesus, we can all use a bit of help. As it is, we are all broken, but unfinished, sinners yet redeemed. We can find help through Scripture, of course, but all that is good and true and beautiful points to God, and can be presented to us through poetry, nature, other people, liturgy… in fact, all of creation has the potential to mediate God to us. And when we recognize the divine, we, like the disciples in the Gospel, can respond and follow. The requirements for the journey are simple… an openness to possibility and the courage to follow our hearts.

As the poet laureate concludes: “There is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it, if only we are brave enough to be it.”

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