Paul proclaims: I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction (I Cor. 7:35)
Winter is definitely here. And yet, even though it is nothing new, like so much else in life, winter continues to “surprise us”, even though we’ve gone through it so many times before. And, while some of it is hopeful and some positive, much feels simply difficult and cumbersome, like plowing the drive and shoveling the walkways of life. And yet such changes are normal. No wonder winter is a good image of life, at least in Ohio. For, as we know, “if you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute and it will change – it is Ohio after all”.
Or, like the words of Paul in 1st Corinthians (one of our readings for this weekend listed above), hopefully, we hear the call to learn to adjust to changes in life. We are called to do this, not because they are “impositions”, but because they challenge us to adhere to the Lord “without distraction” – no matter what. Indeed, we are called to remain connected with the Lord at all times, and not just some of the time, in all the ups and downs of life, as we are with him and one another.
The Lord truly understands the ups and downs of life – he himself experienced them along with people of his day, and all times with us. He does not write them off, or pretend they are just passing by. But, he recognizes change connects us all with the complexity of life, and shows us the way through. He does not try to “pretty them up” or pretend “they are only a test” or promise to “remove them all”. But, he promises and does walk with us through them all. And, through all this, he shows us the way to new life – as long as we do not get too distracted.
In the midst of the distractions of winter, and of life, it is not easy to stay focused and inclusive of those who truly matter, and those elements of life that truly matter as well. And yet, that is what the Lord calls us to. The Lord calls us not to let life sidetrack us, or distract us, or confuse us, but to open us to stay centered to what and who really matters, whatever the circumstance.
So, let is try not to let the chills of life, the snow fall, the slippery spots, the snow piles and the winds of life take over, but let them, as all things, lead us to reach out more to one another seeking support and togetherness. Work at shoveling, work at salting the driveways of life, but also work at staying focused in life in the midst of winter, and summer, and fall and spring, and all the ups and downs of life.
Keeping focused can be easier said than done, to be sure. Paul’s sharing of the word with the people of Corinth is a great invite to us all. Remember Paul himself took a long time to take the Lord to heart. He got distracted by the appearance of Jesus and his early church, to be sure. In some ways, he felt he had already arrived with God in his upbringing, and then became very upset when this new community centered in the Lord, came along.
For, the Lord was challenging them all to be even more inclusive of others – the Gentiles and all people. And yet, in time, the light shone in his life and after spending a long time in quiet reflection on what all had happened, he opened his heart and in time even became the Apostle to the Gentiles. He was distracted for some time but came to be much more open and focused on what the Lord truly stood for. We too are called to stay focused no matter what the winter may bring.
Let us not let the drifts and piles of life distract us from what really matters. Without the Lord piles just get deeper, but with the Lord, the piles are gotten through. Winter is upon us – let us let the Lord help us find our way through the piles of life to new life with him and with one another.
Fr. John E. Krumm, Pastor of St. Brigid Catholic Church in Xenia, St. Augustine in Jamestown & St. Paul in Yellow Springs.