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Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Nov. 6, 2011 (32A)
By Fr. John Foley, S. J.
How can it be that the “typical questions” of children pass down from generation to generation? They do. Our family car was half way to Colorado and I was about six or seven and I remember clearly asking my mother that famous, time-honored question, “Mommy, are we there yet?” It was a real question, and I wasn’t quoting someone else.
Or so I thought.
By now I have heard child after child ask exactly the same question of a parent, in exactly the same words. Maybe it is an innate instinct, like geese flying south or robins digging up worms.
As we become mature we human beings learn to wait, to live with the “not yet.” We call it “delayed gratification.” I may want to be at home, for instance, but to get there from work, I might have to walk to the bus stop, wait for the #10, hand over my fee, stand until there is a seat, at long last sit down, wait some more, get off, walk 50 blocks (it seems), unlock the door, and finally, finally, finally, put my feet up and relax. Some days this can be annoying, but usually “I get used to it,” as we say.
But we shouldn’t get overly used to it. That is the point of this week’s readings. Since we are not children, we can overlook the joy or pleasure when our goal finally arrives because our minds have for so long ignored our desires. These won’t get fulfilled very soon anyway. Do you ever remember to taste the food when you finally get your dinner at a restaurant? Did you remember to enjoy in quiet detail the friend you haven’t seen in a year? Or do you let delay squash longing and fulfillment?
Sunday’s First Reading reminds us peacefully and beautifully to watch for God at sunrise; to keep vigil because Wisdom (the Holy Spirit of God) actually is searching for those who are waiting. God's wisdom “meets them with all solicitude.” The Responsorial Psalm boldly names our craving for God. “My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God,” the antiphon says. And, stay awake, the Gospel adds. Make preparations. Do not be foolish. Do not forget to forego.
Let’s face it. You and I desire God more than anything else. At the center of our souls is a thirst that will never be slaked unless the God of all creation comes in person to be living water for us.
We are parched ground without rain. We have huge fractures in our surface. Our souls ache for the gentle, courteous and tender outpouring God wants to do—not like hurricanes or floods, but like a mother with her newborn.
“Your kindness is a greater good than life,” the psalm says to God.
What? Life is so essential, so to be preserved, so valuable that we fight like a cornered wolf when it is threatened. Still, even so, in spite of all our flurry, God’s delicious kindness is a far greater good than anything else we know, greater even than being alive. It is worth the wait, no matter how long.
So, be excited like a child. Let yourself say “I want” like kids do. But also, be calm like an adult. Know that when our desires are thwarted we need to wait, because wisdom waits for us.