I love it when God “examines my conscience” for me, and that often happens when I am online. I was attracted by a picture on facebook just now, clicked into an article about the installation of Archbishop Blase Cupich in Chicago with the provocative title about him laying out his agenda for Chicago, started to read, and was met by God as I read these words from Cupich’s homily:
But, as for my agenda, if I have learned anything over these past four decades as a pastor, I know it is a disaster for me to have my own agenda. That is not because I don’t have dreams and hopes, or that I want to ignore the challenges and trials of life. Rather it is because I have learned that my agenda is always too small; it’s prone to be self-serving, and ultimately unworthy of the people I am called to serve. No, the agenda has to be God’s, which is beyond our imagining and our abilities. And unlike our priorities, God’s agenda has staying power, it endures.
We see that kind of divine agenda occupying the attention of Ezekiel, a prophet who oftentimes addresses the leaders of the people, pressing them to be attentive to how God is working in the world, so that they can also join in the restoration, the building up and bringing life to the people they serve.
This night, Ezekiel speaks of God’s work in the dryness that not infrequently afflicts human existence. His immediate concern is to inspire new life in the people living in exile, by offering a vision of the new city to be built by God. They have suffered the humiliating defeat by Babylon and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. The people are scattered and disconnected, with hopes broken and barren. They are like dry bones strewn carelessly to rot in an abandoned field under the scorching sun of oppression.
While the circumstances may be different, this kind of dryness is present in our modern times, a dryness that eats away at our hopes and leaves us disoriented. It is the dryness elderly and sick persons can experience when their strength gives way and their bones become unsteady, to the point that they begin to question their worth, their sense of purpose and even the faith that has heretofore directed their lives. We see that dryness caked on the faces of the homeless street people, in the fatigue of the underemployed worker cobbling together three or four low paying jobs to make ends meet, but also in the hectic pace of the successful business owner whose long hours in the office leave little time for family meals and sharing, for rest and recreation….
My agenda is too small, self-serving, needs to be blown open by the wind of the Spirit that can breathe life into my dry bones… My agenda is self-serving. Ouch. As a manager of a digital department, every project has a thousand minor yet important details that need to be part of the music we create. As I hone in on each detail so that every part of the project arrives at the right time ready to be inserted into the overall flow, it is easy for me become smaller and smaller, buried in my own self-serving agenda. And unavailable to God.
I’m so grateful I scanned this article and picked up on this paragraph. I hope I have the time to go back and read the whole article. But even if I don’t, I’ve been changed. And that is enough.