By Brother Brian Boyle, C.PP.S.
Distractions. We all have them in different ways to different intensities. Distractions can not only stop you and me from personal growth. They can also get in the way of hearing God’s call in our lives. Sometimes a distraction can be a real vice; something we would call a sin.
Other distractions can just be something we are doing. That thing can be seen as good, but it is still a distraction from God’s call in our lives. During a little league baseball game between pitches, I focused my eyes on my hands choking up on the bat, then I heard the whoosh of the baseball come past me and the umpire call, “Strike!” I still had my feet in the batter’s box, so I was fair game. I distracted myself and choking up on a bat was hardly a poor choice.
The three readings address alertness, attention and distraction to God’s call. In the Pauline reading, Paul challenges the Christian community in Rome to let go of bad habits of the nefarious variety. This is not so much of a rebuke as an inspiring call. Paul uses “us” instead of “you” when describing the varieties of poor choices the Christians are making. In the Gospel, Jesus inspires us to be alert, ready for the call. Don’t sit back enjoying life too much.
For those of us in religious life, our lay associates or other lay faithful, the hope is that our lives include a meaningful experience of prayer, ministry and community life. You are doing good. Chances are you don’t have a lot in common with the Christians in Rome. In the Isaiah reading, the context of Isaiah calling the Jewish diaspora back home is that the Jewish people hearing this already fled destruction. They live in exile, but they are living peaceful, productive lives. It would be as if an Iraqi refugee living and working in North America got the call to come back home and rebuild modern day Mosul.
For us, maybe we are not distracted by gluttony, promiscuity and other poor choices. It isn’t poor choices as much as it is our routines, work, things that make us productive, that give us life, that can be a distraction as well. Maybe God is calling us to do more, do something different, do something, live some way or even somewhere that is new to you and me.