Friday, December 19, 2008

"Our spiritual GPS"

Eucharistic Adoration, tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. Please join us!!
A family member sent me the following homily given by a priest in Massachusetts on the Third Sunday of Advent which is timely, practical, and insightful:

I'm usually pretty good about not opening Christmas presents until Christmas day -- no matter early I receive them. But I was recently presented with a gift from a group of folks who insisted I open it right then and there, - and rather than disappoint them - I gave in. And the gift was a TomTom: a remarkable global positioning device for my car -- and a most amazing piece of technology with a screen for visual mapping and a speaker for voice prompts along the way.

The TomTom is amazing! It immediately knows exactly where you are -- even if you don't know where you are! You tell it where you want to go - and it charts your trip for you. It knows every highway and street you might take and provides you with the most direct route so that you can get there with the least amount of difficulty. It constantly records the speed at which you're traveling, telling you if you're going too fast or too slow.

The visual neither speeds ahead of you nor lags behind, it always knows just where you are and stays with you. It indicates the location of gas stations and other services to provide fuel and assistance for you on your trip. Although it shows you every side street along the way a big bold arrow always points you in the right direction. The visual map gives advance notice of when and where and how soon you'll need to make a turn, and the voice gives you audible cues to keep you on the correct path: "400 yards ahead, turn right, then bear left, then stay left..."

And then, in case you weren't listening or paying attention, the voice repeats the cue to remind you. If you make a wrong turn it immediately revises your directions to get you going the right way. And it doesn't scold you when you make a wrong turn; its only interest is to get you back on track, to get you to your destination -- the place you want to end up. And no matter how far off you might wander, no matter how much you ignore the directions, it always knows how to get you back just where you need to be, right where you belong....

Wouldn't it be great to have something like that for our LIFE's journey? A full set of directions for every leg of our journey, mapped out by:

someone who always knows exactly where I am -- even if I don't know where I am myself. someone who knows all the streets and turns -- and never gets lost;
someone who wants me to reach my final destination safely;
someone who is by my side all the time, riding right next to me;
someone who can tell me when I need to slow down and when I need to get moving;
someone who knows the best route for me to take avoiding the shortcuts that might get me lost; someone who always knows if it's a left or a right I should take;
someone who, when I insist on making a wrong turn, knows just how to get me going in the right direction -- and who doesn't say, "I TOLD you not to go that way!
someone who will follow me through miles and years of wrong turns and is always there to gladly steer me back to the right path?

But we have all that -- don't we? We do have "someone" just like that. (And just like my TomTom, you knew where I was heading in this homily!)

John the Baptist echoes Isaiah today when he says, "Make a straight highway for the Lord." Clear the roadway! Follow the directions! Life is too great a journey to undertake if you don't know where you're going - or how to get there. Our problem is often that we're foolish enough to think that we know the way, the road, better than God does.

But the Lord knows the way perfectly and wants to guide us: wants to help us avoid short-cuts that get us lost; wants to help us make the right decision at every fork in the road; wants to tell us to slow down when we're moving too fast and to give it some gas when we're holding up traffic; and wants to redirect us every time we get lost on the highway that leads to him, his truth and his love.

Our GPS device as Christians isn't a techno-toy: it's the Scriptures that show us the way; it's the Church constantly reminding us of our destination; it's the guidance of prayer that keeps us turning back to God; and it's the company of others who, by many varied routes, are all heading to the same destination.

This is what Advent and Christmas are all about: making sure we're on the right highway, that we're making the correct turns, that we're following the map the Lord has made for us, that we're heading in the right direction. Once a week, our spiritual GPS leads us down Main Street to this church and to this table, to the Eucharist, where the One who maps all our paths pulls us over to the side of the road here to reorient us and to feed us for the journey. Let us rejoice that Christ himself makes that journey with each of us and will always guide us safely on the path that leads us home.



At 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are many times I think that I own one odd GPS device because it will repeat, over and over, "Searching for Position!"

With time and patience, I've learned that I will always be safely led to my destination if I drive with trust and open ears.

At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Katherine said...

We have God to guide us in our lives, it's just a matter of listening to Him or not.

When I first started going to Daily Mass, I had a really hard time waking up. These days, even if my alarm is not set, I could swear God wakes me up if He knows I am up to it. Sometimes if God knows I am sick He will let me sleep. But most mornings I'm awake at 7 like clockwork, no matter what kind of sleep I got the night before.

I also rely on God to help me when I get lost driving. I have never used GPS, nor will I ever use it when I have God to point me in the right direction. In all honesty, I have never gotten hopelessly lost anywhere except DC and Baltimore, but in my defense they are confusing to drive in to begin with!

At 2:35 PM, Blogger CynthiaBC said...

This past week, someone on a professional BB I frequent posted a link to a site that purportedly calculates one’s date of death, based on one’s birth date, BMI, and general outlook on life. Unable to resist, I visited said site, and was informed that my death will occur on either January 25, 2044 (with a “normal” outlook) or on February 24, 2065 (with an “optimistic” outlook). The site helpfully provides a countdown of how many seconds one has to live.

Obviously the site has its limitations. It doesn’t take into account many factors that affect lifespan, such as family history, medical conditions, and lifestyle. It is unapologetic if the date it calculates has already passed (“Sorry! Your time is expired! Have a nice day.”).

I suppose it’s not out of the question that I could make it into my 79th or even my 100th year. Thanks to medical advances, we’re well aware of how certain habits affect longevity, many diseases can be identified in their early stages, and there are treatments for conditions that even a decade ago would have been fatal. We hear day in and day out what one must to ensure a long, healthy life. But eating healthy, exercising regularly and getting regular checkups go only so far. Thanks to genetics or other factors, one could be struck by cancer or another disease. One could be hit by the proverbial bus (preferably not one sporting an advertisement from the American Humanist Association).

I have no idea how long my life’s path will be, nor what I may encounter along the way, but I know where it will end, if I allow my spiritual GPS to guide me.


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