top of page
  • Writer's pictureFr. Gustavo

"Beam me up, Scotty! Scotty???"

A seed breaking up as it spurs new growth.
John 12:24

I wonder what was on the visitor’s mind when they were seeking Jesus.  They were visitors in Jerusalem, so quite probably they heard about Jesus and his ministry once they got there.

Did they think Jesus was a celebrity?  Someone worth knowing?  Did they ever dream of meeting one of great Rebbes living in Jerusalem? Or was he just a freak?  Or the long-expected Messiah?  We don’t know.


I am sure that like them, you may have had dreams about meeting people, going places, discover new worlds – if not literally, certainly in the sense of being a pioneer in your family, going where no one else went.  Did you ever thought of shaking the hands of a President, the Pope, or someone who you admire and even have in high esteem?


I guess that most of us if not all we all have ideas of what we would like to see in our lifetime.  Children?  Grandchildren?  Burning the mortgage?  Health restored?  Or our favorite culprit getting his or her long-overdue “Karma Moment?”


Sometimes, surprisingly, out of nowhere, we come to see things that we never, ever imagined.  Like the fall of the Berlin Wall or Nine Eleven. 


As human beings we have the ability to vision the future.  Not necessarily that whatever we can imagine in our minds has any chance to become reality, however.  But, at least, we can dream.


Like the people of Israel in exile. 


Today, in our first lesson we find the people of Israel being exiled to Babylon, far away from their promised land.  Indeed, far away from what imagined would be their future.  And, surely, at a purely human level, they wanted to get out of their circumstances – Or, at the very least, they wanted to hear someone who would tell them what they wanted to hear.  They wanted to get out of their squeeze.


Perhaps some of you may have gone through a fire drill.  Even if one understands the need to go through the paces, I am sure we all wish to go back and continue doing what we were doing.  We want life to continue.


Remember the Covid shutdown?  O how much we wanted to go back to our dear old normal!  Even if under different circumstances we may have hated the old normal! 


For sure, the people of Israel were unhappy with their plight.  Never mind that it was their being knuckleheads what caused them going into exile.  Or that they had been seeing it coming for quite a while, either!


Now, enter Jeremiah.  He brings the kind of message that no one wanted to hear.  In fact, what they were hearing was not according to their plan or what they had envisioned for their future.  He was out of left field and, further, he had some bad news for them. 


They were going to be in exile for a long while.  So much so that perhaps many would not be alive to celebrate their return.  It was really, really bad news. 


As in many other human endeavors, they were not happy with such message.  So, they went out to seek “a second opinion.”  And, as it usually happens, of course they were many willing to sing the tune of their liking.


And so, addressing the people Jeremiah told them that, “Some of your people there in Babylonia are fortunetellers, and you have asked them to tell you what will happen in the future.  But they will only lead you astray with their dreams.  And don't let the prophets fool you, either.  They speak in my name, but they are liars.  I have not spoken to them” (Jeremiah 29:5-9).


No wonder Jeremiah was so unpopular.  He was banned and, further, eventually was thrown into prison.  In the leaders’ minds, it didn’t matter if Jeremiah was right.  For the powers that be, and all their supporters, what Jeremiah was preaching was an “inconvenient truth” and went against their best laid plans.


Now, as we know, Jeremiah had some good news for them.  In fact, it was a promise that God would give them a better deal than the one they had.  But it was to no avail.  The future, the nation, every good thing can wait – Right now we want nothing but our way!


Indeed, for them the only thing was what they thought it would be best for them.  They thought, “We have a vision for the best future for Israel.  It must be our way, or it will be the end of the road.”


And when Jeremiah told them that the end of the road was closer than they imagined, they sent him packing.  Nevertheless, the king was killed.  And all the leaders and acolytes that sung the praises of the powers that be, and tied their future to the king’s vision were sent to exile. 


But God would not let them hang out to dry.  There was a promise even if there were not to be early release.  They had to go through a terrible season, but in the end, they would return to a better deal.


However, even with the promise of better days ahead of them, the people of Israel had to go to a land that was not their own.  They were to be strangers in a foreign land and worse, they had to deal with the fact that they were wrong.  All their messianic hopes where just wishful thinking.


So, they bemoaned their fate.  “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” they cried (Psalm 137:5).  In other words, they had to put to death their old dreams and visions to make room for what God had in store for them.


Like the old people of Israel in exile, as Christians, sometimes we are thrown into circumstances that we never dreamt of.  In our minds, our plans seldom include a Babylonian interlude.  We have our vision of how things should play out and we find very upsetting when things do not go according to “our” plan.


Maybe it is because we adopted someone else’s vision.  Or because that as Christians, we may have come to consider our vision and our understanding of the truth as flawless.  However, often we end up living in a kind of exile, wherever we end up in the doldrums of our own devices – or delusions?


Now, I understand.  Even for me sometimes it is difficult to realize that what we call permanent and enduring some day “shall pass away.”  Even Jesus struggled – mightily, as we know!  And, so like the Israelites, we find ourselves struggling to “sing the Lord’s song.” 


A few days ago, I posted this on our FB page, “The true test of your faith is when you don’t understand anything at all, and still trust God.”  I don’t know who wrote the original quote, but if you look to the life of Jesus, you’ll have to agree. 


For whatever the “foreign land” in which we may have been thrown in, and when we reach the point that we cannot understand anything, how do we trust God?  How do we get over the fear and anxiety pushing us to do whatever it takes to change that which in our hearts we know that it cannot be changed? 


Let me suggest that the best way not only to survive but to thrive, is to take hold of hope, and bring the heavenly hope into the realm of our daily lives.


I guess that there are two ways to get hold of hope.  One is to look at hope as something that will pull us out of our plight.  There is no wonder why so many people believe in the rapture.  We all want to get away, via a kind of heavenly “Beam me up, Scotty!”


The other, I submit, is to bring eternal hope to the here and now, to my circumstances, as awful as they may appear to be.


Bringing hope to the here and now goes beyond learning how true it is that “the best laid plans of mouse and men so often go awry.”  Bringing hope to our lives begins by learning to give room to God in our lives. 


It is learning to accept that against best advice, we do not live in a closed universe with no room for God.  And so, first, somehow, we need to learn that God has a say on human affairs, and second, God always has our best interests at heart.


It is beginning to find that shedding the cocoon of our ideals, dreams, and expectations, under the hand of God, will lead us to a new world.  I wonder if a caterpillar or a pupa ever imagined that there could be life beyond what they knew. 


Bringing hope into our lives is learning to see the broken kernel not as a sign of defeat but of new life.  It is opening our eyes to see beyond the cocoon.  It is opening our eyes to new possibilities, if as the hymn says,


If thou but suffer God to guide thee

And hope in Him through all thy ways,

He’ll give thee strength, whate’er betide thee,

And bear thee through the evil days.

Who trusts in God’s unchanging love

Builds on the Rock that naught can move.


Even if we are in exile in a place not of our choosing, bringing hope into our lives is giving God a chance, for even after the apparent finality of death there was a Resurrection.


This what a terrified teenager did over two thousand years – “Be it according to your will”, she said.  Did she ever imagine that two centuries later we would be speaking about her and honoring her?  Nope.  Nevertheless, she made room for hope in her life.  Even when it didn’t make any sense!  So, if she could do it, so we can.  You can.  I can.


And now, “Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever.  Amen.


Fr. Gustavo

17 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page