Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Spirituality: Summer reruns
by Father Michael Savelesky, for the Inland Register
(From the Aug. 2, 2001 edition of the Inland Register)
Well, here we are again — in the middle of another summer! For most people the pace of life has slackened (or is supposed to) as we bask in the sun in our free time, take time for the lake or catch up on all those little repair projects left undone since winter.
A good time to kick back and watch some television for a change (?!), right? Well, good luck! It’s a challenge to catch something original this time of year. Either you have seen the program before during the year (how many hours does the average person watch each day?) or the subject matter is a real bore. They don’t call them “summer reruns” for nothing. Perhaps the television industry takes a summer break, too.
So often do we encounter reruns that we may notice that they may have affected our summer life-style. Often we hear complaints about the summer reruns — as if there were nothing to be gained in watching something a second time ’round.
This attitude may spring from other dimensions of our lives as well. We don’t like hand-me-down clothes. We buy new items instead of getting broken ones repaired. (Remember the good old days when school kids used to fold up their lunch sacks and stuff them in their back pockets and for the next day’s use?) The label “disposable” is attached to everything, as if to advertise its convenience. Use it this morning; toss it by nightfall. One-time use is all our affluent culture seems to expect.
Is it any wonder then that this same disposable one-time use attitude may well affect our approach to Sacred Scripture — especially the Word of God that we hear at Mass each Sunday? Once we become familiar with a story, our minds want to toss it aside and look for something new. Well, there are only so many chapters in the entire Bible, and even far less in the Gospels themselves! Have we ever mumbled to ourselves, “Oh, I know that one. Click” goes the mind.
Nothing more to hear here. Been there, heard that. Let’s move on.
Television is not the only place in our culture where we encounter the rerun phenomenon. We encounter it at Mass all the time — especially during these summer months when, liturgically speaking, we have returned to Ordinary Time. Our minds and hearts find it easy to gear up for the major feasts of Christmas and Easter, each of which has its pre- and post- period of celebration. Then comes Ordinary Time. Is it any wonder that we think (falsely) that God’s flow of love and grace somehow have shut down after the feast? The very word “ordinary” may lull us into thinking that God only moves our hearts during the major feasts. All else is ordinary — time for the reruns, as it were.
Actually, God’s Word knows no vacation time or period of relaxation. At first, the Word of God which we hear at Mass may strike us as a mere rerun of something old and familiar. Yes, just like we can listen more attentively to a television rerun and catch details we have missed the first time, we can do the same with the Word of God. And there is a lot to be found in the details!
But more important for our spiritual growth and nourishment is a change of attitude. We almost have to counter our summertime expectations and remind ourselves that God’s Word is never a rerun, no matter how familiar we become with its content.
Because life is always new and fresh — each and every day — and we are equally reborn (or should be), God’s Word can always strike us in new and fresh ways. The search for a relationship with God continues in season and out of season. The weather may change and the lake beckon for a time of relaxation, but the quest continues. It knows no vacation time.
God “speaks” through Sacred Scripture to hungry hearts each and every time it is read or proclaimed. But it cannot touch hearts which already know the ending once the first words are heard. It would be to our benefit to remind ourselves that with God’s Word, there are no summer reruns.
(Father Savelesky is pastor of Assumption Parish, Spokane. His latest book, Catholics Believe, has been released by Harcourt Religion Publishers.) (Download order form in pdf format)
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