ONE THING MORE: A Truth To Be Told
The islands rise on the horizon, emerging through the mist. A young boy rests his head on the ship's railing, as I did in childhood, gazing down upon the foaming sea, waving at dolphins in the distance. Memory of travelling to Aran in August. Memory of the past and the meaning that came to me through Aran and the sea.
I'm looking for clarity now, waiting for mist to clear, not in an anxious way but as a child who knows how to wait and trust and ponder.
"strange islands, the roaring torrents, whisper of the amorous gales, tranquil night, the approaches of the dawn and silent music" (St. John of the Cross)
The Gospel of the rich man brings me back years to the Chapel in St. Patrick's College, a couple of months before we were ordained priests. We had to go through a sermon exam. Each of us had to preach a sermon in the presence of a Chapel full of seminarians, the President Father Gus O'Donnell being the examiner. At the end as he was leaving the Chapel he leaned into the seat where Derry and I were sitting and said quietly, with sadness, "Eamonn and Derry, you both have oodles of intelligence but are totally lacking in imagination!" That burst any bubble I might have been clinging to! He might have been suggesting that I preach more from the heart than the head.
But there was no hurt in it. He spoke the truth discreetly so that only we could hear and in this he reminds me of Jesus with the rich man. There was a truth to be told and it was done with love.
Jesus looked steadily at him, stared hard at him and was filled with love for him, "There is one thing you lack, one thing more that you need to do." The one who has kept all the Commandments of God is called to more and so are we.
But before the "more" that is asked of us, Jesus not only wants to look steadily at us lovingly but to enter as Love into our very depths. Into your very depths and mine and there to identify the one thing, the more that is necessary in order to lay hold of the life to which I am called.
This requires prayer and a silent listening that sifts through the usual suspects that we are constantly aware of so that we become aware of something new, perhaps some one thing that we might not want to acknowledge or prefer not to know about ourselves.
I've pondered the "one thing" from time to time over the years; for the past two weeks it's been constantly on my mind because of its occurrence in this Sunday's Mass. And I'm still waiting for the answer to emerge, as I go about my life, in its walks through town and by the sea. You never know where and when the Word will speak.
Presently I'm on an early night time walk, observing a magnificent sky.
It might be Mars, the pulsating red star descending to the horizon at the darkening of the sky. Though a young woman from the parish said it was Venus. Men and Mars, Women and Venus. We see things differently, experience the same reality differently.
There's a gladness about, the gladness of a Friday evening in October. The warm glow of a pub, voices drifting out into the darkening street. And walking in the midst of this youthful happiness it's no harm at all to be aware of the hidden lives and those that are sad. I am myself for the most part one of the hidden and, while I walk gladly through this reverie, I am not part of it, don't belong in it but happy for those who do.
In all of it, Jesus is the Word that is alive and active, penetrating bone and marrow, soul and spirit, revealing secret thoughts and intentions. It is to Him that we are called to give account of who and how we are, what we are making of this life that has been entrusted to us (Hebrews 4).