Jan 25, 2009

The world is passing away

Wow. I thought I was interpreting a passage from today's New Testament reading out of context ... but when I searched for the passage, I found it duplicated in another context that sums up exactly what I originally interpreted anyway! Probably most fundamental truths are like that - they are so pervasive that they cut straight thru context. Here's the passage from today's New Testament reading ...
... For the world in its present form is passing away.

Paul mentions this, almost in passing, in the middle of his advice to virgins - to remain as they are - anxious to please God and not worried about pleasing a spouse.

But, today's message - in all the readings and in Fr. Joe's homily - was, for me, to deny worldly things altogether. In the story of Jonah, the people of Nineveh repent by fasting and wearing sackcloth - they deny themselves even food and clothing. Paul admonishes the virgins in the Corinthian church to deny the "worldly" anxieties of marriage. Simon, Andrew, James, and John all leave their worldly lives to follow Jesus when he calls them.

So when I searched for the bit I remembered from 1 Corinthians - "the world is passing away" - I was surprised to find the top result is 1 John 2:17 ...
The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

Whoa. That's exactly the message I received from the 3 other "un-related" passages.

I think it sorta hit me strongly yesterday because I've been keeping myself busy - never good for spiritual growth. And a few times recently now, people have tried to engage me in some spiritual conversation and I've been unusually inarticulate and dumbfounded. I think I'm consuming myself with worldly things.

So, I'm going to (re-)commit to a few practices that will hopefully help me move my attention back towards God in the world, rather than the world itself. I'm going to resume my daily devotional - been slacking on it recently. I'm also going to start attending Wednesday morning Mass and pray the Rosary afterwords. And I'm going to continuously read something by C.S. Lewis - I think the exposure to his metaphors and analogies really help me relate spiritual Truth to this world, which is what I feel like I've been missing.

I've been too consumed with the passing of "this world" and I've been ignoring the presence of God within it.


Jeff said...

There is much tension between being a good steward of the earth and realizing that it is passing away. The both/and version of this may be the understanding that we have both feet firmly planted in two worlds at the same time and not one foot in each.

Dang! Now we have to figure out to do that.

Matt C said...

In college I did my Junior thesis for English Lit on the poet Christina Rossetti. Here's what I selected as her "exemplary" poem, i.e. the one that best captures this magnificent writer:

Passing Away
By Christina Georgina Rossetti

(easier-to-read link: http://www.daypoems.net/poems/732.html)

PASSING away, saith the World, passing away:
Chances, beauty and youth sapp'd day by day:
Thy life never continueth in one stay.
Is the eye waxen dim, is the dark hair changing to gray
That hath won neither laurel nor bay?
I shall clothe myself in Spring and bud in May:
Thou, root-stricken, shalt not rebuild thy decay
On my bosom for aye.
Then I answer'd: Yea.

Passing away, saith my Soul, passing away:
With its burden of fear and hope, of labour and play,
Hearken what the past doth witness and say:
Rust in thy gold, a moth is in thine array,
A canker is in thy bud, thy leaf must decay.
At midnight, at cockcrow, at morning, one certain day,
Lo, the Bridegroom shall come and shall not delay:
Watch thou and pray.
Then I answer'd: Yea.

Passing away, saith my God, passing away:
Winter passeth after the long delay:
New grapes on the vine, new figs on the tender spray,
Turtle calleth turtle in Heaven's May.
Though I tarry, wait for me, trust me, watch and pray.
Arise, come away; night is past, and lo, it is day;
My love, my sister, my spouse, thou shalt hear me say--
Then I answer'd: Yea.