Today’s readings had me thinking of an old song that said, “I’m just a poor, wayfaring stranger, a traveling through this land of woe.”
I feel like that at times, but the point I want to make is that most people, even though they do not know that song, are looking for help in traveling through this land of woe. We are overwhelmed by the world’s vastness and by the difficulties that come out of nowhere. Most people feel they need to look for outside help.
The Pharisees, whom Jesus criticized in the Gospel, tried to gain help from God by making themselves into models of virtue for lesser people to follow; and Jesus said that wasn’t working for the Pharisees.
I have a slight acquaintance with the man in the Gospel who has five sparrows that he would sell for a few pennies. One day in the years before Korea revived from its war, I was stuck standing for three hours on a very crowded bus. The way I was wedged in had me staring down at a seated gentleman who was holding a stiff strand of straw out before him.
I was impressed with the neat vest and jacket his women had fashioned for him out of a U.S. Army blanket. The straw he was holding out in front of him was threaded through the stiff little nostrils of three small birds. I knew enough of customs to guess that he planned on selling the perfect birds to someone who was laying out a ceremonial meal for their departed ancestors. Some strangers traveling through this land of woe seek for help by honoring their ancestors.
St. Paul spoke of the way we Christians look for outside help. He said we are, “Sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.”
Our Theologians, in explaining what Paul meant, speak of Uncreated Grace and Created Grace. Our more familiar way of putting that is that Uncreated Grace is God dwelling in our souls. Created Grace is the Sanctifying Grace God pours out in our soul.
We wayfaring strangers need never fear if we keep God at home in our souls.