- Fr. John Jennings
Seeking, Discovering, Paying the Price
February 2 is sometimes referred to as Groundhog Day. There is a curious tradition attached to this day. In some places, it is held that if the groundhog emerges from his winter hibernation on this day and sees his shadow, winter will be longer. It will continue for 6 more weeks.
In the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day”, a weatherman (Bill Murray) is called upon to do his annual assignment. Unable to avoid the assignment, he takes it on begrudgingly. To his dismay, he discovers that he enters an experience of perpetual Groundhog Day. He cannot escape it and finds himself waking up each morning to Groundhog Day again.
It may seem to us that we find ourselves in a perpetual Covid-19. We have now been in isolation and limited contact for more than 4 months. It looks like it will continue for sometime longer and we do not know how long. We have had to give up much and accept many changes in how we act and in our expectations. Such adjustment particularly with its uncertainty is hard. As difficult and discouraging as this is, however, perhaps there are hopeful signs that our experience will bring some positive changes to our world and even to our own personal lives.
How many of us have discovered that having time to ourselves periodically has been to our benefit. Our world, in some measure may discover that we are “in this together” and we need each other to come out of it. It may happen slowly, but looking at our world and all creation as Pope Francis expressed it, “our common home”, may well become a more prevalent view, with shared responsibility. It may well be that we are discovering that elements of our contemporary technology are less a threat and more a benefit in keeping us connected with one another.
In our own relationships, we may be discovering how rich they are and how important they are for our mutual happiness and contentment. One of the ironies of this time is the fact that while we are in isolation and separation, we may have found ourselves going out of our way to reconnect with the people who mean so much to us, near and far.
Our current experience has offered us a chance for more awareness of the benefits of quiet time, reflection and prayer. Stepping back and looking at our life and faith in this circumstance may help us grasp the wonder of Jesus’s words in so many ways. In particular, what we hear from Matthew this Sunday.
Jesus tells three parables of the Kingdom (Matt 13:44-52). All three parables speak of seeking and discovering. Once the person seeking has made the discovery there is something further. To acquire the discovery there is a price to pay. Something must be given up in order to have the treasure, the pearl or to make room for the fish in the net.
To discover the Kingdom is to discover what responds to our core, our spirit. What offers us ultimate fulfillment, happiness and contentment. The parables alert us to the reality that the discovery is only the beginning. There is a price to pay if it is to become truly rooted in our lives. To acquire or hold this discovery we have to make room for it in our lives.
Jesus would call this “making room”, repentance – “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.” (Matt 4:17). To be in the Kingdom means that we live differently – changes in our values, changes in our priorities, changes in what we see as important. To live as Jesus’ disciples means we live in our world with the same love, care and compassion for all. This is the challenge of the kIngdom and the living of a life marked by repentance.