Saturday, September 21, 2013
Doing What Must Be Done
On today’s feast of St. Matthew the Apostle, there was printed an interesting homily by Saint Bede, in the Liturgy of the Hours book. Here is an excerpt from that homily:
Matthew gave a banquet for the Lord at his earthly residence, but far more pleasing was the banquet set in his own heart which he provided through faith and love. Our Savior attests to this: “Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
On hearing Christ’s voice, we open the door to receive him, as it were, when we freely assent to his promptings and when we give ourselves over to doing what must be done.
I thought this reading most thought provoking because of words I recently heard from many of my friends and, to be honest, words I was thinking myself: What does God want of me? There are so many things pulling us this way and that, so many troubling headlines in the papers, and so many worries we have about our lives and our families. What should I do? What CAN I do? Does it even matter?
Some people ask those questions of themselves, and finding no answer, despair. Drugs, alcohol, and thoughts of suicide flitter in their lives. They see no answer that promises a way out of their problems, nor their sadness. And sometimes, even if they see possible solutions, they say: “But I can’t do that. That would be too hard,” or “People will laugh at me if they see ME doing that,” or “Even if I did that, it probably wouldn’t make any difference.”
This is despair.
I liked St. Bede’s homily (above) because it looks at our situations, all of our problems, from a different viewpoint, one which we don’t consider nearly often enough. St. Bede points out that Matthew did things he thought right too, but WHAT he did mattered less than HOW he did it. Far more pleasing was the banquet set in his own heart. His attitude and his faith mattered. And then St. Bede says why this is so: If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
And even better than this explanation of the good results available to us, St. Bede gives the simple formula to make this happen, when we freely assent to his promptings and when we give ourselves over to doing what must be done. We don’t have to figure out a solution to our problems, ways to end our sadness. God is there, knocking at our door, and all we have to do is listen to his voice, his promptings, on the other side. And if we do, the result will be that we open the door to him, and we eat with him; we open the door by listening to his promptings and doing what must be done. There are no complex plans we have to figure out, no risky solutions that are “too hard,” or “laughable,” or ones that “won’t make a difference.” No, if we listen to his promptings and do what must be done, he will enter and be with us. We will not be alone in our sadness any longer.
Listen to his promptings, and do what must be done --- not some final end-all solution, not some complex plan involving others, not some regimen we don’t know if we can continue with in the future. This day, do what must be done.
And then leave the rest, including the worries and anxieties, to him.