The Lonely Heart
#TheLonelyHeart is the podcast for October 20, 2019, Making it through a lonely or hard season can be tough. It is not a time to turn inward. Jesus tells us why. Listen here FREE and find out more: Download it into your phone. #Luke18 #Lonely #Prayer #Faith #Woke #CancelCulture #Abba #Daddy
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For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Fr. Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 10/20/2019 The 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 18:1-8.
Last week, I told you that we are different as Christians. I told you that too many of us are busy singing a requiem for Christendom as we ignore the mission, mandate, and opportunity to evangelize. I told you that St. Peter said that we would be “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
When we embrace that we are a mission post for Christ, then we are embracing that we are different. Difference usually engenders some kind of “bad” stereotype and reaction from those around us. Our work is hard. Also, life itself is hard. Who has discovered that life is not so much the end but the duration of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”? Turn off the Hallmark Channel in your heads for a while. There is tragedy, death, division, acrimony on every side.
There is death of children, death of a spouse, divorce, child rebellion, suicide, addiction, human trafficking, poverty, injustice all around. Insert your pain and whatever cross you are bearing here. It. Can. Be. Over. Whelming. When we experience these setbacks, especially when we experience them over and over and over, we could hear the voice of the Devil and his demons easily: “God doesn’t care about you. If he did, life would be easy street.” Or, “Why did that happen to you? That is not fair.” Or, “Why do they have it so easy? You don’t.”
It is easy for us to turn inward at these times of persecution and disappointment. It is easy for us to place the blame squarely on ourselves. Although, I am a big fan of self-reflection, this kind of isolation is not what we are called to do. In fact, Jesus tells us that these things are going to happen and he tells us what to do and turning in upon the self is not what he recommends.
In verse 17.20-25, he tells us that we will long for his coming again because of the work we are called to do. He tells us that we will not see him come at that time. He tells us that there will be pain and hardship when we advance the Kingdom of God in our own personal lives and in our professional lives and in our public lives. It is because there will be rebellion from those around us, maybe even those closest to us. So, where, oh, where, can we find relief?
Interestingly enough, Luke tells us specifically what this parable in today’s Gospel is about. He says, “Jesus told them a parable about the need to pray and not lose heart.” So, no need to do these deep scholastic dives as to what the “real meaning” is here. It is simply that we are to not lose heart. That is hard to do when we are turning in upon ourselves and continually thinking and rethinking what is happening without the context of God, sin, redemption, mercy.
So, the first thing we need to notice about this parable is that we are encouraged to find relief outside ourselves. Like the widow, a person marginalized by society, poor because she depended on the income of her now dead husband, we need to be determined to get justice from God. We need to be determined to get relief from God. We need to be persistent in our asking. Give us this day our daily bread. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.
The widow is seeking justice from an unjust judge who gives it to her because she is annoyingly persistent. How much more does the God we love, the Father in heaven, hear our lonely heart? The One who created us and knows us by name, the One who counted the hairs on our head, why would he create us to want us to be neglected, lonely, miserable, and wanting? No, he does not want that. That is the lie of the enemy. Do not believe it.
The danger is the same danger that we are encountering with the new “Woke” generation. There is a new idea that if someone doesn’t agree with us 100%, then they are “cancelled”. It is also called the “cancel” culture. We can fall into the same trap with God. We can say, “Lord, unless you give me everything the way I want it, the way I see it, then you are canceled.” In fact, one of the dangers of Christianity is the notion that if God is unhappy with our behavior in one area, we assume that he hates us and rejects us entirely. This could not be farther from the truth.
The point of Christianity is to have a relationship with our kind, loving, and generous daddy. Jesus says we are to call God ‘Abba’. That means ‘Daddy’, not ‘Father’. It is a term of endearment and closeness. The God of the universe wants us to be intimate as a loving father is intimate and kind to his children. He is a Father that knows the way people behave. He knows the evil that exists. He calls each one of us to resist it.
In the last year, I have had every reason to throw in the towel on my faith. The life I wanted, craved, desired, is not the life I now have. I am mourning deeply the life I wanted. So, imagine how, when I opened up the Gospel of Luke to prepare my remarks for today, that I saw this, this, this promise. Where is MY justice, I asked? Outraged, I sent a text to a friend of mine. Where is MY justice, I asked? She texted back, “Have you prayed, Fr.? Have you said midday prayer, Fr.?” It was a kind rebuke because she does not usually address me by my title. She is a close friend who does not need to be formal. I was convicted.
As I entered into prayer, I was reminded by the Lord about all the people he has sent into my life to tell me they love me. He reminded me about all the comfort I have received from people who did not know they were comforting me. I was reminded by the voice of God how restful and peaceful He is when I am in his presence. I was reminded by how he walks with me, even when I am disobedient, wrong, stupid, and careless.
Karl Marx said, “religion is the opiate of the people.” Well, when life is stressful, I run to release opiates into my system, so, “Hell yes, religion is the opiate of the people.” God is the comfort when others disappoint. When we are in the midst of unjust judges, people who are evil toward us, people who abuse us, there is only one place that gives us relief: God. There is a reason there are no atheists in foxholes. God is the ultimate relief in times of trouble. So, yes, in the midst pain, suffering, rejection, abuse, go to; no, run to God!
This is the message from the One who knew he was going to be rejected by his creation. He knew he was going to be cheated, abused, mistreated, and humiliated in the worst of all possible ways. He became human so that he would live our life—and it was a life of suffering and hardship. So, the One who is telling you to pray is not one who does not know. He knows that when you do what is right, what is good, what is true, you are going to run into a buzz saw. When you do, don’t turn inward. Don’t close the door on God. Do just the opposite, be annoyingly persistent and believe.
Trust the prayer. Trust the encounter. Believing is seeing. Be the one that the Son of Man finds when he returns. If you do, even though you may despair of life itself, as St. Paul says he did in 2 Corinthians, you will have peace that surpasses all understanding in the most unbearable of circumstances. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritul Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2019.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian