29th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year B - 21st October 2018
Life is played out in two halves!
Richard Rohr, the author of the book, Falling Upwards, tells us that life is lived in two halves, with the first half learning how to live life to the fullest and the second half learning how to let go and let die, or how to let go and let God! Both halves are equally challenging. For some, all of life is played to the full, in what appears to us as one half, as a seemingly harsh and remote referee brings the game to a premature close.
The First Half
How we wish we could have lived our earlier lives with the wisdom of mature years! In the first half, young people are immortal – they are going to live forever. (What consternation occurs when mortality strikes one of their own – they are totally devastated.) The first half is geared towards independence, fulfilment, achievement and success. Here competitiveness and consumerism is controlled and monitored by the jungle law of the survival of the fittest, while the “weakest links” are consigned callously and unjustly to the margins of the pathways of failure.
The Second Half
Age creeps up on us in a few blinks, and, looking back, we can synopsise the significant decades of our lives in portions of seconds. Life itself ushers us unknowingly into the departure lounge! Here we learn that the only door to eternity is death itself. Each day is a little dying. People of mature years, whom we still regard as the boys and girls of our school days, die around us as they drop out of the procession, from the cradle to the grave. In the death of each friend we are further diminished and rendered vulnerable to mortality.
Jesus as the Way to Live Life to the Full
Another writer Henri Nouwen wrote a book called, Can you Drink the Cup? He asks: “Can we hold the cup of life in our hands? Can we lift it up for others to see? Can we drink it to the full?” This is what Jesus is asking of James and John today. He is moving them away from the first half of life. Can they embrace the pathway of the cross in which death is no longer a Dead-End, but rather a Divine Right-Of-Way. That is the Christian route to winning God’s favour.
True freedom exists in becoming a servant, letting go of earthly ambitions, success, competiveness and rivalries. It is a call to let go and let God – in short, it is a call to fall upward into life as it evolves, a call to fall upward into God!
Fr.Michael McCullagh cm