And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.”
And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
I have a hard time with people who always knew what they wanted to do with their lives. Like Isaiah in the first reading today, crowing how God made it clear to him what he was to do. Who hasn’t longed for that kind of clarity, prayed novenas and put out angel alerts? But for most of us God is like the tour guide who enjoys keeping our itinerary a secret; or like the spiritual director I once had who listened to my struggles and responded (with relish), “Great stuff.” Yeah, buddy, thanks a lot.
Ordinary Time, which begins today, brings with it many days when we feel like we’re out here on our own, having missed the fine print: A Life of Faith may cause regular and considerable discomfort. Or as Isaiah puts it in the line edited out of today’s reading: “I thought I had toiled in vain, for nothing and for naught spent my strength.”
We can fight that discomfort all we want, try to figure things out or poke God into action with our ranting; but in the end we usually have to surrender—surrender our plans, surrender our expectations, surrender our complaints, until we’re just standing there vulnerable and alone in the presence of God.
That can be scary: I want you to see me, God, but don’t look too close! But with our eyes finally on Him (rather than ourselves), and our voices finally stilled, maybe in that moment God finally gets a chance to speak.
—Fr. Jim McDermott, S.J, a Wisconsin Province Jesuit, is an accomplished professional screenwriter who lives at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles CA.
Speak, O Lord, your servant is listening:
you have the words of everlasting life!
—Marty Haugen, Mass of RemembrancePlease share the Good Word with your friends!