Paying Attention to Our Relationship with God – The 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
I’m flying in a couple of days to attend the wedding of my niece Maria and her fiancé Samuel. I don’t think that I will encounter parallels with the Gospel for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Gospel tells a tale of those who ignored the invitation to the wedding and an attendee who wore the wrong outfit.
My sense from Instagram and Facebook is that I am going to be privileged to celebrate with a well-loved couple of young people. I’m sure that people are very happy to have received an invitation to the wedding.
As for attire, I’m probably the guest who should be anxious about being out of place. Of course, the uncle of the bride is probably not going to be noticed. Hardly a major player! And what he wears won’t make reports of the wedding!
Maria and Samuel aren’t the point here. Rather, the Gospel is concerned with our relationship with God. How easily do we ignore the invitation to spend time with God? We can always find an excuse to avoid God, to avoid prayer, to avoid even silence or quiet.
The Gospel refers to guests going away – “one to his farm, another to his business.” There are many things competing with God for attention. I sympathize with pastors trying to attract people – of any age group – to Mass on a Sunday morning.
It’s much more relaxing to put our feet up and read the weekend newspapers or to prepare brunch for family and friends. The 24-hour news cycle is very addictive. So are social networks. There’s no shortage of competition for church.
I’m surprised that retreats are not more popular in our stressed-out culture. I keep hearing about the closure of retreat centres, at least here in the Toronto area. I occasionally help at Manresa, our Jesuit spirituality centre in Pickering, Ontario.
It’s been around for a long time and serves a real need, by providing space for men and women who are working on their spiritual life. On any given weekend, the centre is filled with people who want a quiet space to spend time growing closer to God and to themselves.
They are able to meet with a spiritual guide and participate in spiritual activities. The weekend retreats have a theme explored in five presentations from Friday evening to Sunday midday.
Manresa invites an impressive assortment of Jesuits and lay people to facilitate the weekend retreats. The presentations always have an Ignatian theme. The building is simple and it gets expensive to keep up with the constant need for repairs.
Those involved with Manresa would love to have a better space. Those coming for a weekend retreat seem able to look beyond the imperfections and limitations of the buildings. They are fed – both spiritually and for their bodies.
It would be a great gift to people if a wealthy benefactor helped Manresa to strengthen the structure. Despite the simple surroundings, people still choose to come to Manresa. Check it out at www.manresa-canada.ca
I’m sure that most people are happy to be away from constant news and the distractions of life. I’ve heard people say that the best kept secret of Manresa is the gift of peace.
Old timers have come to appreciate that great gift. New people might be distracted at first, looking for more excitement. They eventually grow to appreciate how valuable and rare that gift of peace can be.
I imagine that many women and men can be quite articulate in stating how much they have shifted from Friday evening to Sunday morning. That anxiety about life seems more manageable.
That seemingly impossible family struggle has become possible. They are not checking their phones every few minutes. Whatever you do for your relationship with God, let it provide peace in the midst of your busy life.