The Clamor

Sunday Stack

Sunday Stack

I can’t shake last weekend’s Mass readings out of my head.  My initial reaction, when they first approached me as a threesome, was: “Huh?” Because, usually, there is at least a tenuous (if not obvious) connection between the Old Testament Scripture and the Gospel – and sometimes there’s a clear thematic connection between all three.  But I just couldn’t see it at first.  We were given a piece of Job’s lament, then some of St. Paul’s tripping-over-his-own-tongue enthusiasm for the Good News, and then the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law in Mark.  But as I sat staring out the window after Mass, this phrase from the Gospel gently needled me most: “…he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.”

Wow.  Consider with me, please.  These demons know who Jesus Christ is — and oh does He know them. He knows that His name is not safe in their mouths.  He knows that they would only use it to disclose his identity (as their own downfall?!) at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons. Though they could go throughout the world telling of the news of the Messiah’s arrival, they are forbidden to do so.

St. Paul, on the other hand, has the spectacular freedom to do nothing else.  He has personally encountered His Savior not only on the road to Damascus, but also in His own heart ~ through prayer, through the Holy Spirit, and through the friendship of others like Timothy and Titus. St. Paul knows and is fully known.  He loves and is fully loved – but, actually, not in that order.  He was loved first (1 John 4:19) and – unlike the demons – chose to love in return.  And because he knows and loves God, He is compelled to speak of Him – no matter what the cost.

Our beleaguered friend Job, also, shows the fruit of a loving relationship with the LORD.  Though he is suffering far beyond common experience, Job has the courage and humility to go to God with his complaints.  Rather than railing against the LORD (as do his friends), Job converses with Him.  And what a gift that is!  Just imagine if our God had said to Job that he was no longer permitted to speak to Him. No longer allowed to pray.

All of this reminds me of a scene in C.S. Lewis’ novel The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  The crew is on an island near the end of the world, considering their embarkation toward that dangerous adventure. Nobody seems very keen until King Caspian tells them to stop assuming they’re invited; applicant interviews for the great honor will ensue.  Suddenly there’s a clamoring.

Perhaps today we should each imagine what it would be like for God to tell you and me that we are no longer allowed to pray, nor to speak of Him to others. Perhaps it’s as good a place as any – and better than some – from which to launch our Lenten voyage.

Your Pickle,
Marian Bart
Parish Catechetical Leader