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Spiritual Reflection – Pentecost 20

Spiritual Reflection – Seasons

To a large extent our perceptions of our immediate environment are shaped by our instinctive understanding of seasonal variation. What would be considered an unseasonably warm day in winter would be perceived as a cool day in the height of summer. The arrival and departure of the seasons means that our experience of particular realities changes according to the season. 

As the famous reading from the third chapter of Ecclesiastes reminds us, there is a season for everything under the sun. This is more than mere poetry; it is reality, and we had better get used to it. Everything changes. For us to keep growing we need to have something of an athletic disposition; we need to keep adapting to the changing world around us. It is easy to drown in nostalgia and spend our time lamenting the demise of the past. The past has passed, and we have to deal with the present. 

It has been observed that most of the great heresies in the church have been conservative heresies. Wild-eyed revolutionaries never get much traction for their ideas, and any movement they start barely lasts their lifetime. On the other hand, the status quo has boundless sources of inertia; it is able to refuse the challenge of the new simply by insisting on the solutions proposed by a previous generation. One does not have to be very creative to stop things happening, just obstinate. By way of response, all of us need to insist that while being faithful to its tradition, the church is also called to respond to the signs of the times. 

A similar situation can arise in individual lives; perhaps we know persons who simply cannot deal with unsolicited change. They keep doing the things that used to work, despite the increasing heaviness they experience in doing so and the lack of satisfactory results. Like Jerusalem of old, they failed to notice the time of their visitation. 

There are seasons in our life. What was appropriate in youth may not be suitable for mellower years. If we are wise, we will not allow ourselves to adhere to attitudes and practices that have passed their use-by date. The providence of God continues to intervene in our lives, and willingly responding to its changing demands will fill us with energy and happiness. On the other hand if, like Howard Hughes, we immure ourselves in our penthouse to ensure that nothing around us changes, we will be dead long before our heart stops beating. (September 26, 2014.)

Michael Casey. Balaam’s Donkey: Random Ruminations for Every Day of the Year. (Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2018).


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