This Sunday's readings contain one of my favorite Psalms: Psalm 131, it is short and it is humble.
Psalm 131: 1,2, 3:
Lord my heart is not proud, nor are my eyes haughty. I do not busy myself with great matters, with things too sublime for me. Rather I have stilled my soul, like a weaned child to it's mother, weaned is my soul. Israel hope in the Lord, now and forever.
The response that we are to say is: In you Lord, we have found peace. Is that where you find your peace? Why is peace so elusive? Do you go to the Lord daily in prayer and give to Him all the things you busy yourself with through the day? Do you fill your mind with the word of God, which is living and active? Could it be that we think that exterior peace leads to interior peace?
I know that there are times that my heart and soul get so wound up with activities great or small, debates about issues, great or small, that I am far from peaceful. And when I am agitated and restless, I want to change everything around me, to do something that I hope will transform my turmoil into tranquility (or at least distract me from it). If I get everything in place around me, or if I can control my surroundings, I think that I should be able to attain peace in my soul. I attempt to quiet my restless heart with what I do, what I have or who I love and am loved by in this world, so that I will be satisfied.
But it is not so. And it takes humility to realize it. To humbly be weaned of the temptation to create false peace and to try so hard to control how others see you, treat you or honor you. We need to be content and humble in the presence of the Lord, or else we can fall into the trap of the Pharisees, who "preach but do not practice", or the priests of Malichi 2, who" do not listen" and "do not lay it to heart". They have achieved the places of honor, but have not submitted their hearts and minds to the Lord with humility and love.
Thus, the Psalm is about prayer, and even great kings, who do have to busy themselves in the world with great and sublime things, must humble themselves and sit at the feet of the Lord where we all should submit our worries and joys, our successes and our failures to our true King. And, if I do not understand that all true peace and lasting joy come from the Lord, and are gifts that are nurtured in prayer and quiet listening, even if I say I believe and trust in the Lord, I will fall prey so easily to false notions of peace, and false notions of faith. This Psalm calls us to a deep reliance and a stronger trust in the Lord, who at times seems to let the world spin out of control.
The mother of a child who is being weaned knows that there are greater things for her child, and her child is ready to move on. The child only knows that mother is withdrawing a comforting form of her nurturing love from him or her, and a very anxious child may be desperate to maintain this comfort with their mother. Here is where this child can grow in trust; the weaning process is not just the removal of a consolation and leaving the little one to comfort himself; what mother does not console her anxious child as they grow and mature leaving behind childish comforts? But upon weaning they are beginning to understand that mother is still near, and still delighting in her child, and they can quietly rest in her lap without being upset at having moved on from earlier stages of nurturing. She has not weaned them to burden them, but to free them. Peace and humility are found in the trust and firm hope that even in middle of chaos and anxiety, when the Lord feels far away, He is still there, and nothing will separate you from His care.
Grace and Peace,
Here is some wisdom from Deacon Paul Rooney about the readings for the Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time.