Efficiency vs. Intentionality. Homily for Holy Family Sunday
Dr. Tod Worner is a husband, father, Catholic convert & practicing internal medicine physician. His blog, “Catholic Thinking”, is found at Aleteia.org.
Take a look at the following that he recently quoted on the Word on Fire website:
“All the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber.” – Blaise Pascal, Pensees (No. 139)
“The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less.” – Václav Havel
“When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.” – Joseph Campbell
As Doc Worner writes,
These quotes are about the difference between efficiency and intentionality. Efficiency isn’t solely about managing a schedule; as G.K. Chesterton pointed out. It is a way of thinking. Efficiency crowns those steely-eyed, decisive, ice-in-the-veins analysts. It is devoid of those pesky hangers-on like emotions and purpose and reflection.
We’ve become masters of efficiency. But we’ve lost our soul.
Herod and St. Joseph provide quite a contrast. Herod was about Herod. He was totally self-absorbed and narcissistic. His entire focus was on himself. Joseph has transcended his own ego. Joseph was other-centered. Joseph’s whole existence and behavior are conditioned by obedience to the Word of God.
What does it take to do this? About 10 minutes. A man in my Gospel reflection group was talking about becoming other-centered. A few years ago he decided to stop coming to church late and leave early. He vowed to come 10 minutes early, look at the Scripture readings, slow down, compose himself and enter into the liturgy more fully. He would this for one year.
He failed miserably.
Next he vowed to stay 10 minutes after Mass. He would use this time to think a bit about what was said in the Scriptures and what was said in the homily.
He failed miserably.
This year he is going to try and take 10 minutes – one time each week – and write down what he heard at Mass. He would like to see what insights the Holy Spirit gives him through this exercise. It might be on Sunday. It might be during some quiet time in the evening. Just 10 minutes. Once each week. There are 10,080 minutes in a week. He thinks that he might just have a chance.
Over dinner this week, I had a very spirited conversation with a very close friend. We talked about politics. We talked about the Church. He talked about human relationships between men and women. We didn’t agree on a single thing. Each time I would carve out my position, I would forward my foundational elements. I would craft my thesis. I would make my final determination. In each case he said, “That’s wrong. Don’t do that. Your focus is off target. You’ll lose the argument. You need to focus on the Lord.”
I countered with a further explanation on why my position was correct. He counter-punched with “Don’t worry about them. This is what it means to be a disciple. Don’t worry about their side or their argument. You follow Christ.
I don’t know what was in the shrimp cocktail sauce but I’m never serving it to him again.
On January 5, 1964, Pope St. Paul VI wrote “Nazareth, A Model.” Listen to what he says:
Nazareth is a kind of school where we may begin to discover what Christ’s life was like and even to understand his Gospel. Here, in the midst of the Holy Family, we can learn the importance of spiritual discipline for all who wish to follow Christ and to live by the teachings of his Gospel.
First, we learn from its silence. If only we could once again appreciate its great value. We need this wonderful state of mind, beset as we are by the cacophony of strident protests and conflicting claims so characteristic of these turbulent times. The silence of Nazareth should teach us how to meditate in peace and quiet, to reflect on what is deeply spiritual, and to be open to the voice of God’s inner wisdom and the counsel of his true teachers. Nazareth can teach us the value of study and preparation, of meditation, of a well-ordered personal spiritual life, and of silent prayer that is known only to God.
Spiritual writers call this “being awake.” The world wants your attention. Satan wants you to focus on the world. Christ wants you to focus on Him.
Joseph was totally focused on God. He took the 10 minutes daily to become familiar with God’s law. At that key moment, when the angel appeared, he was awake. He was focused on God, the kid, family and Notre Dame (That’s Latin for “Our Lady by the way – not the football team).
Want to become a better man, woman, mother, dad, person, man, woman disciple, follower of Jesus? Do you want to try and become holier?
10 minutes, sometime during the week. Try it. Fail. Try again.
Give it to God. He’ll do the rest.