A Reflection on the Second Reading for January 31st, 2021: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 7.32-35
Brothers and sisters, I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided.
The unmarried woman and the virgin are concerned about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is concerned about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband.
I say this for your own benefit, not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.
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Saint Paul, as he was writing to the Corinthians, wanted to “promote good order”. How easy is it to fall out of order? For me? Quite easy, actually. Disorderliness seems to be my nature. It's not how I want to be, but it's how I often am. God, however, is very orderly.
If you have spent any time in Genesis 1 and 2 (If you haven’t, I highly recommend it), you will have a sense of just how orderly God is. Like a skilled project manager, He initiates a plan of action to lovingly mould out of a “formless void” (Genesis 1:2), life, in all its diversity, beauty, and purposefulness. He moves with intention and precision to place within His creation a harmonious balance of water, earth, sky, day, night, plants, animals — all of His magnificent creativity finally culminating in His magnum opus: humankind. You and me.
“So God created humankind in his image, In the image of God he created them; Male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
God is perfection. A perfect being who created us after His own image. The image of orderliness, let’s say.
So, there is good reason for our own innate desire for order. We have laws to institute order, we clean our houses to maintain order, school teachers line children up for transitions in an orderly fashion. Take some time to think about the number of routines in your day that point to our need for order. Still, life can feel very chaotic at times. Sometimes this is because of our external circumstances, but I would assert that the chaos that lives within us is the most unsettling.
It certainly causes an uneasiness in me, and still I get the proper order of things wrong regularly. Just the other day, I was visiting an elementary school, and a wee 5-year-old leaned up next to me and asked, “Where’d you come from?” I replied, “Well, I drove here in my car.” And she said, “No, I mean, who MADE you?” “Oh! My mommy and daddy did,” I said. “Oh,” she mused, almost disapprovingly, and then added matter-of-factly, “God made me.”
This child is well ordered. Close in age to her own genesis, she carries no confusion around Who comes first and was totally at peace expressing what she knows to be true. It seems the farther I move away from my own genesis, the more disordered I am prone to become.
The antidote, perhaps, to my interior chaos, could be to meditate on this coming-from-ness which I have been gifted by my Father — meditating on Order Himself. This initial step may actually help me to draw away from that which has fallen out of order in my life, by drawing me into the One who brings order to all things. In order to initiate this focussed time with God, I will be asking myself the same question that beautiful little girl so insightfully asked me: "Who made you?"