Spirituality for Today – June 2016 – Volume 20, Issue 11

What a Surprise!

Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci

An photo of daisies.

From the time a child is able to reflect on the world around him, how amazed he must be by the change of seasons. Certainly, the marvelous happenings with the arrival of springtime must be the most wondrous of all. No wonder that Jesus often uses the planting season to describe the mystery of the Kingdom of God: The farmer plants the seed and does what he can do to nurture growth, but how the growth occurs is beyond his knowledge; the small seed becomes a plant large enough to provide shade and a place of nesting for birds. Jesus' parables point to the presence of the kingdom active within the daily living of the faithful, but not necessarily understood by them.

One of the great mysteries of life is the movement of the reign of God within our worldly experiences. Perhaps, one might imagine that there is a surprise party being planned for you. Family and friends are busy arranging all of the details of the big event and you are not aware of anything unusual happening. People who care about you are considering ways of showing their friendship and their love for you. When that special day arrives and you are brought to whatever location is hosting your party, then you realize how much you did not know about what is happening during those "normal" days of your life. Beyond our sight, in the air, in the sunlight, and even in the storm, there dwells a force for good.

From another viewpoint, the kingdom is unfolding within the actions we perform. There is a presence in the various currents of existence that is out to fashion goodness in one's manner and in one's relationships. Generally, human nature has a vague awareness of this presence and the influence it has on a person. Discovering the operation of the Holy Spirit most often finds expression in the loving gifts of others. Regrettably, the old saying, "You always hurt the one you love" has weight. Sometimes, the closeness of a spouse or a friend causes us to miss the importance they have in our lives or to disregard the heartfelt concerns they may have for the choices we are making. In my opinion, it is always wise to heed the advice of those who truly love you and we dismiss it at our regret. This sentiment is expressed in the final line of Edward Arlington Robinson's poem An Old Story, "I never knew the worth of him until he died." Often, the loss of a loved one reveals an unappreciated value represented within that person now gone.

Surprises might be born from an often difficult task to perform – forgiveness. In the gospels, Jesus challenges us to "love" your enemy and to respond with charity to those who "persecute" you. Our human nature might react in a way expressed in the lyric of an old Country and Western song, "God may forgive you, but I won't. God may love you, but I don't." Jesus calls us to be a people who can reach a higher rung on the moral ladder. We are meant to be a compassionate people. Perhaps, if we make an effort to really understand what motivates a person to do hurtful things, we can help them to find a better place to be rather than react to their hurt by hurting them more. This response offers the possibility for healing and a better chance for wholeness – or holiness – within the person. Granted, there are persons who are stone-like in the hardness of their hearts and there are those whom we best avoid, but our more Christ-like attitude invites reconciliation and spiritual rebirth for those who seek it.

Surprises – or mysteries – are immersed in not only in what we do, but in who we are. Swiss philosopher and poet, Henri Frederic Amiel, said, "We are hemmed round with mystery, and the greatest mysteries are contained in what we see and do every day." One message is that God is there in order to help us all along the way. If desirous of his help and attentive to its applications, we are in for a day of excitement with the arrival of every dawn. Accompanied by this willed awareness of offering the Spirit room to operate as our baptisms dictated, we apply a positively enhanced and a more spiritual protocol to our social interplay. Those who populate our daily lives become individuals who are going to receive our best selves, our selves affected by an attitude of seeking to treat all people, both good and bad, with an effort to heal, encourage, and evangelize Openness to divine influence on the thoughts we think, the actions we produce, and the words we say make all of our interactions with others and all of our interpretations of the world around us truly wondrous.

Yes, we can be surprised by our potential to govern ourselves and to bring something "heavenly" to our earthly existence. As Pope Benedict XVI said, "Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction." In a world where it appears that all hell has broken loose, how glorious and miraculous it is to find people devoted to bringing virtue and goodness to the chaos.