Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1) Is 66:10-14
Psalm 66: 1-7, 16, 20
2) Gal 6:14-18
Gospel: Lk 10:1-12, 17-20
We are born after nine months of life in utero not because we are fully developed but because of the workings of our mother’s anatomy. Head size is the issue. We must enter the birth canal while our head is still small enough to make the descent.
At this point, our brain, inside our little head, is incomplete. Laying down the wiring and making the connections is a work in progress. Our brain cannot regulate our respiration and pulse on its own. We need our mother’s presence to set the rhythms of our heart and lungs. By ourselves, we cannot maintain normal temperature. When we are startled, we cannot calm ourselves. We need Mom.
“As a mother comforts her child,” God says in our first reading, “so will I comfort you” (Is 66:13). How young a child shall we envision? A 5-year-old? A 2-year-old? Shall we picture ourselves as a newborn? We can. The text speaks of nursing “with delight” from “abundant breasts.”
But it is not easy to imagine ourselves as a neonate. While we begin in a helpless state, with basic functions outsourced to mother, our developing brain soon takes the regulatory role on board. Step by step, we move toward independence.
We learn to calm ourselves, to feed ourselves, to walk. We leave mom and walk off into the world. To mature is to become a man or woman who makes decisions, is strong for others, bears the heat of the day, accomplishes something. The picture of ourselves as a newborn seems to negate the whole arc of our development.
Perhaps, though, as we mature in one sense by going in the direction of independence, we mature in another sense by going the opposite way. As we move toward independence, we are likely to discover that by ourselves we cannot regulate our talents and desires and aspirations in a constructive way for the good of others and ourselves.
We need something — Someone — to direct our hearts, to empower us to love, to comfort us in darkness. Maturing involves coming to see more and more clearly that every good thought and plan and act comes from the God who loves us as a mother loves the new baby blinking up at her.
“Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3).
Perrotta is the editor and an author of the “Six Weeks With the Bible” series, teaches part time at Siena Heights University and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.