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For When Life Doesn't Go As Planned

October 11, 2020   Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Lectionary: 142)

Reading 1   IS 25:6-10A

On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
a feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the veil that veils all peoples,
the web that is woven over all nations;
he will destroy death forever.
The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from every face;
the reproach of his people he will remove
from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken.
On that day it will be said:
"Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!"
For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.

Responsorial Psalm   PS 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6 

R. (6cd) I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
He guides me in right paths
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

Reading 2   PHIL 4:12-14, 19-20

Brothers and sisters:
I know how to live in humble circumstances;
I know also how to live with abundance.
In every circumstance and in all things
I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry,
of living in abundance and of being in need. 
I can do all things in him who strengthens me. 
Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.

My God will fully supply whatever you need,
in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
To our God and Father, glory forever and ever. Amen.

Alleluia   EPH 1:17-18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our hearts,
so that we may know what is the hope
that belongs to our call.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people 
in parables, saying, 
"The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son. 
He dispatched his servants
to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business. 
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them. 
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 
Then he said to his servants, 'The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come. 
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.’
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests. 
But when the king came in to meet the guests,
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. 
The king said to him, 'My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?'
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, 'Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’
Many are invited, but few are chosen."

or

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people
in parables, saying,
"The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants
to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
'Tell those invited: "Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast."’
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business. 
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them. 
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 
Then he said to his servants, 'The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come. 
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.’
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests."

 

By Mary Susan Delagrange 

I know that God is a God of provision. He’s the Good Shepherd guiding me, wiping away my tears and setting rich banquets before me. 

And yet, I fear. I worry. When life doesn’t go as expected I cling to my earthly understanding, unable to see the big picture. I wallow in self pity feeling alone and abandoned by the one who’s supposed to be strengthening me. It’s easy for me to twist the promise of scripture to fit my own desires. It’s easy to welcome the protection, but not the struggle.

I’m cool with the rod and the staff, but I’d rather skip the dark valley, thanks. 

The last six months of lost time and lost community feel like they’ve resulted in lost closeness with the Lord. I’m homeschooling my four kids for the first time, desperately hungry for connection, frustrated that I still feel so alienated, overwhelmed and annoyed by literally everything that doesn’t pan out and some days it feels like nothing is panning out. The more out of control I feel, the harder I try to force my hand.

But in reality, I don’t need control, I need detachment. Specifically I need to detach from my expectations, from my desire to clench every moment trying to bend life to my will. Instead of hardening my heart with resentment and anger when things inevitably turn out differently than I’d like, I need to learn the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and living in need (Phil. 4:12). At least part of that secret is to acknowledge that hard doesn’t always mean bad. Hard can mean opportunity.

Hard times are a chance to move out of control and into love. 

And so my daily prayer is that I would unclench my hands and receive the grace to see opportunity within hardship, to see all the ways God shows up for me, that I would recognize the millions of tiny gifts He bestows each day. And I keep reminding myself that whether or not I’m comfortable or my expectations are met, He is still guiding and protecting me. If I can reorient myself from living in order to get what I want to being motivated purely by love, then I think I’ll find some of the peace I seek. 

I don’t know if I’ll ever be as detached from the world and my desires as I’d like to be, but I do know that the grace is there if I want it. I’m not alone.

Things are different in this season and while they’re harder than before, He hasn’t changed.

Jesus remains the steady provider, consistent safety net, and patient lover He has always been. But it is only in moving out of control and into love that I can see Him for who He really is. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mary Susan Delagrange is a professional juggler. She juggles four kids, a butcher husband, a highly excitable labradoodle, her birth doula business, and blogs about it all at. A native Texan living in Ohio, she spends her days dreaming of real Mexican food, journaling, drinking too much coffee, and escaping to run in the woods whenever she gets the chance. You can find out more about her here.  

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