Daily Reflection
August 9th, 1999
Maureen McCann Waldron
The Collaborative Ministry Office
Deuteronomy 10:12-22
Matthew 17:22-27

When my son reads a book, he gets lost.  Oblivious to the world around him, he will become so engrossed in the story in his hands, that he doesnít hear doorbells, conversations or the normal clatter of life in a busy home.  While at times his complete focus can be exasperating, I also envy it.

I, too, love reading books, but I always have one ear open, conscious of time, people, and the life swirling around me.  I lift my eyes from the plot to monitor the rest of the world, and quickly return to the book, but I lose the deepening experience of the story in my hands.

While I donít think Jesus is asking us to ignore the world around us, he is inviting us into a more intense focus, not a more casual, distracted view of the gospel.

Todayís gospel begins with Jesus telling his disciples that he will be betrayed and killed before he is raised.  We are invited into the life of being a disciple, following Jesus, living his message even in the difficulties, and receiving new life.

Into the middle of Jesusí message comes a question about taxes from Rome.  Itís a part of real life for Jesus just as it is for us.  But rather than get on the tax, Jesus quickly dispenses with it and provides the coin to pay the tax so he can get back to his work.  Yes, itís important and part of real life, but itís not the focus.

Our lives are complicated, filled with distractions, hopes, joys, pain and discouragement.  Jesus isnít asking us to ignore these or pretend they donít exist.  But in the midst of our real and everyday lives, Jesus invites us to ignore the clamor of the anything that take us away from him, that prevent us from deepening our relationship with him.

Do I worry too much about my own success, my image or how I appear?  Do I find myself distracted by anger, the inability to forgive and grudges?  Are the fears in my life so many that I become self-focussed?  Can even my pain and confusion over things within my own church keep me from turning to Jesus?

We arenít being asked to bury our heads in a book but to re-focus, to lift our heads and concentrate long and deeply at only one thing: Jesus as he stands with us, gazing at us with unimaginable love.

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