A Well-Ordered Soul

September 20, 2023
Wednesday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Sts. Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Priest, and Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, and Companions, Martyrs—Memorial


“‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.’ John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine, and you said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” Luke 7:32–35

Ecclesiastes 3 is a very popular reading for funerals. It says, “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant…A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” This reading is consoling to those who are mourning at a funeral because life is filled with many different emotions and experiences. When those at a funeral think about their loved one, they will recall both the good times and the bad, the sorrows and the joys. Doing so helps remind them that even though the funeral is a time of sorrow, joys will follow in the future. This is the natural rhythm of life.

In our Gospel today, Jesus challenged those who failed to have the proper human response at the right time. “We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.” The image of playing a flute and singing a dirge and the subsequent failure to dance and weep reveals a certain disconnect that many people had to John the Baptist and to Jesus Himself during their ministries. In commenting upon this passage, Saint Augustine says that John the Baptist’s preaching was like a dirge that called people to the “weeping” of repentance. However, when he preached, there were many who failed to respond with the appropriate repentance. When Jesus came, He preached and gave witness to the new life of grace that He came to bestow. Though some listened and responded to Him, there were many who did not. Jesus’ message was like the music of the flute that was to inspire people to “dance.” But many failed to respond with the joy that they were invited to experience and live through His transforming message and grace.

There is, indeed, an appointed time for everything and for every affair under Heaven. The mission we have been given is to be attentive to that which God is speaking to us at each and every moment of our lives. At times we must “weep” by looking at our sins honestly, experience the horror of those sins, and passionately reject them. At other times we will “dance” when God invites us into His consoling grace and asks us to see clearly His merciful love. At those moments we are invited to be deeply grateful and to express that gratitude with our whole souls.

Reflect, today, upon the calling you have been given to live in a well-ordered way. Do so by considering how attentive you are to the people around you. Does the attentiveness of your charity help you to see the hurt within the hearts of those who are suffering? Are you compelled to offer them a compassionate ear and merciful heart? When others are experiencing the joys of life, are you able to share that joy with them? Can you do so fully, without jealousy or envy of any kind? When God inspires you to some act of conversion and bestows some grace, do you listen and promptly obey, responding in the most appropriate way? Our souls must become sensitive to the promptings of grace and must respond accordingly. Seek to have a well-ordered soul so that you will live and experience the life that God places before you each day in accord with His perfect will.

Lord, Your soul was perfectly ordered, always responding to the will of the Father with perfection. You were firm when love demanded it, courageous in the face of hardship, merciful to the repentant sinner, and joyful at the conversion of all. Please help me to always be attentive to the promptings of Your grace and to always respond to You in the way I am called. Jesus, I trust in You.

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Scripture Meditations for Ordinary Time

Saints/Feasts for Today

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Featured images above: Saint John the Baptist, Standing in a Landscape, via Wikimedia Commons