Turning to the disciples in private he said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it” (Lk 10:23-24).
What did the disciples see, what did they hear that the prophets and kings desired to see? The kingdom of God in their midst was no longer a saying or teaching of Jesus, but a reality uniquely experienced by the disciples who were sent by him. Those who were sent by Jesus took the risk, trusted, and believed in him and went out and preached, exorcised, and healed in Jesus’ name doing what they had seen him doing!
Deeper still the disciples experienced the gift of the Mystery of God. The Mystery of God is not a problem to be solved because God is not one being among many, not even the greatest or supreme being. God is, “I am who am” (Ex 3:14), as he described himself to Moses. He cannot be solved or proven, but he can be experienced, and that was the joy and exhilaration that the disciples felt coming back after having experienced God working through them. Jesus himself rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, not because they had healed in his name but that they had entered into communion with the Father, “do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” (Lk 10:20).
In following Jesus, learning directly from him, and then going off to minister in his name, they experienced the kingdom of Heaven. They had participated in the loving communion of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. How did they do so? They became childlike in that they lost themselves in their mission of following the will of God. Jesus had prepared them to be free from all sense of the ego-self, how others would look at them, or how others would react to their preaching or healing. The disciples were in the zone of being directed by God and doing his will, like Jesus, without hesitation.
When I was younger I used to live, eat, and breathe baseball and hockey. I would make up different versions of playing for the NHL or MLB with those players of that time in our backyard which became the Montreal Forum or Yankee Stadium.
One experience I remember was setting up cinder blocks in the formation of steps, three on the bottom, two next, and then one on the top. I then strode some paces back with my left hand fit snugly into my worn baseball glove and tennis ball in the right. Each step led me to the pitching mound of Yankee Stadium. When I wound up and threw a tennis ball at the makeshift concrete pitchback the game had begun and within minutes, I was on the field with Willie Randolph, Thurman Munson, Mickey Rivers, looking to retire the batters Jim Rice, Pudge Fisk, and Carl Yastrzemski.
Each time the ball soared into the air or skirted across the ground, I leaped into the air, or dove sideways to come up and throw to first base, then zipped over to first to make the stretching grab. Of course, during some of the better plays I reenacted them as an instant replay. I completely lost myself in the game, I was in the zone.
On one particular occasion while immersed in a Saturday double-header, I happened to look up and saw looking out of the screen door my mother, stepfather, and some family friends who had all come over to visit, all of them with big smiles on their faces. I sheepishly put my head down and stood for a few moments. Within a minute or so, they went back to their business and I returned to Yankee Stadium to finish the game.
I share this experience to show an example of how we as children can lose ourselves, “free of reactions, expectations, and approval of those around” us. The disciples did the same, the only difference is that they lost themselves in hearing the word of God and just doing what he wanted them to do. Bishop Robert Barron shared it this way in a homily: “The best moments in life occur when we lose the ego, lose ourselves in the world and just are as God wants us to be.”
Lose yourself today in something you love to do, whether that be drawing, painting, singing, playing an instrument or sport, running, praying, reading, writing, or serving in ministry, even as Brother Lawrence did, who lost himself in doing the dishes. Find moments to be free of expectations and approval, release the weight of what others might be thinking or expecting. Instead, be present and mindful at the moment and immerse yourself in what you are doing.
These are very real acts of spiritual discipline that prepare us to be in the present, where we experience and find the God who is reaching out to us, and so then like the disciples, we will be better able to experience him and follow his will, serve him, without hesitation or concern for what others think. We will then also experience Jesus rejoicing with us that we have our names “written in Heaven”.
Photo: Me about six or seven?
Quote from Bishop Robert Barron’s homily from 10/7/2017. Bishop Robert Barron’s daily Gospel messages can be accessed from: