Saturday was a strange day for driving in South Carolina. As I was heading out to run an errand, I drove past a car lying on its side, blocking two lanes of traffic.
Later in the day when we were showing our Australian friend around our new area, we happened upon a crowd standing on a front porch set way off the road. They must have been wondering just how the black sedan ended up smack dab in the middle of their front door. (I regret not taking a picture to share with you, you will have to use your imagination.)
How is it that in the beginning of a mild-mannered ordinary week, the Catholic Church drops a bomb of a gospel in the readings for daily Mass? Like the unsuspecting drivers I saw on Saturday, I need to pay attention to the road signs. If our eyes are on the road we can read the words like: Caution! Slow Down! Sharp Turn Ahead! If we are coasting through life with our eyes on our phones we will miss it all and end up on our side or in someone else's living room.
If I had been paying attention to the gospel on Sunday, reading the signs, maybe I would not have been as shocked by the gospel reading this morning.
In Sunday's gospel, we saw Jesus challenged by his relatives who just wanted Him to come home and be quiet. Maybe they told Him, 'Hold it there son, you are gettin' too big for your britches'. Or maybe they were just trying to 'shush' Jesus and get him to stop calling so much attention to Himself and consequently, them as well. Rightly so, Jesus must have felt a little persecuted for doing His Father's work.
Which leads to today's gospel: the Bomb of the Beatitudes. Matthew challenges us to slow down and focus on what really matters. The Beatitudes teach us so much about what it means to live with a Heart & Soul focused on Christ. But, this gospel can be polarizing if you are living too fast.
Seeing the signs, maybe I would have recognized that Jesus must have felt a bit persecuted on Sunday. Maybe I would have thought a little deeper about how Jesus was going to respond to his relatives. Nope, I never thought twice about the gospel. I was more concerned about whether the priest invited visitors to join the parish.
So often, we are trying to do too many things at one time and we don't have the ability to hear what God is trying to say to us. When life is moving too fast, we can overreact to something that is so very minor, and our overreaction has great consequences. Going too fast, we miss what Christ is trying to tell us in His word. It is easy to read the Beatitudes as an accusation about what we are failing to do instead of a guide to transformation. When we don't see the signs, we miss out on an opportunity to grow closer to our brothers and sisters because we are consumed with worrying about what others will think.
This week, consider slowing down. Commit to giving 10 more minutes every day to stillness and prayer. Open your heart a little wider to the love that Christ so desperately wants to give you. Once received, it is oh, so much easier to give away.