Listen to the Unexpected

{I’ll post today and go back to every other day after}

Back in 1991, in a homily on (Mt. 15:21-28) the story of the pagan Canaanite woman begging Jesus to heal her daughter, while the disciples tried to get rid of her, a priest said something that stuck me hard. I wrote this in my journal:

[The priest] said the disciples were unable to understand why Jesus was wasting his time on this pagan nobody woman who was being a pest. Jesus sees all so differently. He showed them that God has a penchant for revealing himself most brightly through the lowly, plain, homely, poor, simple, outcast, irritating people and events of life, more than through the attractive, pleasant, wealthy, wise or learnèd folks whose words tickle our ears. He gave a host of biblical examples.

He said God uses that method to point out what is most important, to humble us and help us love better and exit our self-enclosed worlds — since the real wisdom only comes to us if we choose, often against our natural preferences, to be attentive to what gets overlooked or ignored by most. If we choose Christ-love.

Then he said this: “So I challenge you to understand that you will miss much of your calling in life if you don’t learn to see and hear God in un-obvious places. Always ask yourself at the end of every day: what was God showing me through that person or experience I’d rather not deal with or found utterly uninteresting? In that discerning attitude you’ll find the gold without alloy.”

And he added, “Even in the ‘bad homily,’ God is speaking his hidden eloquence. If you just tune out, you lose out.”

So interesting. As he made his final point about Mother Teresa’s method of seeking Jesus principally in ‘distressing disguises,’ he ended by quoting this selection from St . Paul’s letter to the Philippians:

Be of the same mind,
having the same love,
being in full accord and of one mind.
Do nothing from selfish ambition
or empty conceit,
but in humility
regard others as surpassing yourselves.
Let each of you focus not to your own interests
but on others’ interests.
Let the same mind be in you
that was in Christ Jesus.

“Why?” he said. “Because in that attitude you will be one with Jesus who ’emptied himself and took the form of a slave.’ Among the slaves, the unseen, in all their forms, there you will find God.”

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