Spirituality for Today – Summer 2019 – Volume 23, Issue 4

Making for the Horizon

Reverend Raymond K. Petrucci

When an older brother evaluates his younger brother, he may be more than a little critical. My dear brother is eight years younger than I and I admit (many decades down the road) that I thought that my growth, experience, and interests automatically had been infused into his much younger mind. Growing up on Connecticut's shoreline, I loved to venture into the waves of Long Island Sound. I was amazed, however, that, at sixteen, my brother bought a Boston Whaler and went slashing through the waves to nearby islands. In other ways, he seemed destined to follow in my father's footsteps and to join my older brother in the family business. There was in him, however, not merely a hobby, but a natural inclination toward the sea.

People tend to express a driving, consuming, fulfilling interest in their lives as being their "passion." The term is derived from the Greek word "pathos" which is rendered in the Latin as "passio" meaning suffering. Being intensely engaged in one's passion, a person will eschew other pursuits and accept the need of sacrificing and of suffering in order to meet its demands. There many cases of ill-conceived passions; passions that are impossible to authentically pursue. Imagine the instance of a six foot six inch man weighing two hundred and eighty pounds who has the passion of becoming a jockey and riding the winner of the Kentucky Derby. That person may be able to adjust that passion for horse racing toward becoming involved in some other area of that sport. There is an opportunity, however, for all of us to pursue a goal, a horizon, that beckons us to strive for the farthest and the greatest goal of all – the Kingdom of God. Unlike the huge man who wanted to be a jockey, there are no physical, no intellectual, no artistic skill required, but there are spiritual capabilities necessary. I believe that these capabilities lie within every individual; these abilities are God-given and can be blunted only by a personal decision. I believe that each individual is capable of desiring to reach a horizon far beyond that which the world can offer. When Jesus of Nazareth entered Jerusalem, he knew that his mission was approaching its end, its ultimate horizon. Jesus showed us how misguided human praise could be, how to carry the cross, and how to triumph over sin and death.

We would be very much mistaken in assuming that the heavenly horizon is the only view that enters our vision. Jesus has given us a daily focus for life. If daily experiences make us feel as if we were walking through flowery meadows or standing on a rocky crag looking toward a stormy sea, we are given the grace both to rejoice and to endure. We are the People of God who share a common mission and we are called to support one another on the path of life.

It is easy to laugh at men's ideals; it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others. The world is full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another.
  J. M. Barrie

The foundation of the Christian faith is Jesus Christ and he depends on us to spread the Good News of salvation from sin and from death. One sure way of accomplishing this task is to fashion our character on the morality that is ours from the teaching of Jesus. Good and evil are not personal opinions or whimsical choices, but existential realities. We should be able to recognize the influence of the Holy Spirit enlightening our understanding of what is righteous and what is not. People speak of a "moral compass." In Christ, the needle of that compass points toward the Kingdom of God and we need to help each other make our way. Stop expecting someone else to be a holy person. Jesus expects that effort from all of us. We also must not despair in thinking ourselves stuck in the mire of our sinfulness. Remember, Jesus came as a "Savior" who hunts for his lost sheep. Praise for goodness seen in the actions of one another and encouragement for us to reach out in contriteness of heart for God's mercy marks the true Christian.

By the way, my brother currently owns an impressive cabin cruiser with which he goes to much farther islands on the Atlantic. He has expanded his horizons and we must look to expand ours through living in a manner pleasing to God and steadfastly making for that place of eternal love.