When we hear the words of Jesus to Peter, "You are thinking in human ways and not the ways of God," my guess is that you are like me and morality comes first to mind. I must act rightly according to the ways of God. The Prophet Jeremiah accused God of seducing him to speak words and commands that made him an outcast among his own people. All this while he was just trying to do right as he felt God had commanded him.
But, what keeps us doing what we believe is right if not having a sense of God that grounds our souls and desires to be faithful. Along with the morality of our relationship with God we are also invited today to consider the beauty of God who entices us and invites us to be in a relationship with this divine person.
I invite you to consider this beauty of God in terms of the time we have in our lives to devote to this relationship. There is, on the one hand, time that is wasted and there is also time that is well-spent. We probably have a pretty good notion of what wasted time is like. When I was a teenager in Ohio we could buy what was called 3.2 beer (alcohol content = 3.2 %). One would have to drink loads of 3.2 beer to get drunk. And I must confess that I experienced more than a few Friday nights when I did just that only to discover what the term, "wasted," really means. Time wasted happens in all our lives.
Fortunately, I also have the experience of spending time both in prayer and in service. You can recall the same in your life. These times are the "well-spent" times of our lives. And these times : times of family and friends, times of uplift and responding to needs : are a great contrast to the wasted times of life.
Time well-spent is, I submit, an experience of the Beauty of God. Jeremiah and Peter share these experiences and remain committed to God who calls them to do what is right.
In his essay on beauty, "The Relevance of the Beautiful," the philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer says that a component of beauty is the experience of festival. To feast and celebrate wherein all are invited to participate is to experience the beauty of community. Gadamer says that religious festival is the greatest example of this experience of beauty.
When I was growing up on the west side of Cleveland you didn't want to miss the Parish Festival of St. Rocco's Church. There was parading on the church grounds and the carrying of statues and the singing of songs and all sorts of community togetherness. This was feasting, something the likes of which is sadly, mostly lost these days.
This the celebration of God's feast and the time of this beautiful experience is, in Gadamer's description, time that is fulfilled. Fulfilled time doesn't care necessarily about the correctness of how we do what we do so much as the celebration of inviting all to be pleased in their partying.
We celebrate the beauty of God's ways in this Eucharist. All communities that celebrate this Feast of Life have the obligation to see to it that it is well and happily celebrated with as many people as possible. Those leaders who block the access to this gift of God's gracious love make the world somewhat less beautiful.
We at Jesus Our Shepherd happily celebrate this inclusive feast and invite one another to gather with Jesus who shares the pleasure of the divine interpersonal love of Creator, Redeemer and Abiding Spirit.
When we celebrate this beauty of God's ways we apply the words of St. Paul to the Romans to ..."prove the will of God that which is good, pleasing (or shall we say beautiful), and perfect."