Are you bored?…Enter into life and fight for it
The contrast (difference) between the First Reading and the Gospel is quite extraordinary. In the First Reading we see ordinary young men ready to die for their faith. In the Gospel we see the learned leaders playing games with Jesus about death and marriage, trying to avoid the deep message that Jesus brought to them.
How were those young men able to have courage? And the mother, able to be firm in her faith? These questions continue to challenge our world today, where many people are “bored.”
Boredom: having a lack of interest in things: leading to conflict born out of frustration that there is a lack of meaning in our lives. It’s interesting that before the year 1900, the word was rarely used. Since 1900 it has increased by 100 times in normal usage:
exactly the same time when people became more materially comfortable and independent.
Are you bored with life? Are you struggling to find meaning in each day?
Then, today’s readings may open our minds to discover why.
The difference between boredom and interest may help us understand today’s readings, and also provide a way for us to reflect on the state of our lives. I was inspired by the article written by Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI 24th October, 2016: Boredom – A Fault within Ourselves.
He identifies author Bieke Vandekerckhove, who wrote The Taste of Silence, after she was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease (a degenerative neurological condition followed by early death). Rolheiser quotes her this way: “Given that today we carry in our hands technological devices that link us to everything from the world news of the day to photos of our loved ones playing with their children, shouldn’t we be insulated against boredom? Ironically, the opposite seems true. Meaning and happiness, she suggests, do not consist so much in meeting interesting people and being exposed to interesting things; rather they consist in taking a deeper interest in people and things.”
INTEREST, as Rolheiser explains, comes from two root words (Latin):
inter (inside) and esse (being). Combined they mean: being inside of something.
I would suggest that the issue for many unhappy people today is their pre-occupation with themselves, and their own problems, and an inability to take a major interest in other people and the amazing world around each of us.
INTEREST, I suggest, is what sustained the young men and mother in our First Reading. By their faithful attention to religious devotion, following the Commandments and actively living the teachings of God in their daily lives, they were able to enter into God.
Once they genuinely entered into God, they could not imagine life without God. So, ironically, as they gave up their lives for God, they entered more fully into LIFE.
How do we enter into God? It’s just like Jesus taught us: By loving our neighbour. That young lady, Bieke, after learning she would soon die, entered into depression which I now see as “boredom”. But, eventually, she changed and entered into life: she began appreciating small things in nature; and appreciating deeply the things people around her were doing.
Einstein said: “Experience is not what happens to us, it’s what we do with what happens to us.”
Rolheiser concludes with this: “Finding life interesting isn’t dependent upon where you are and who you meet but rather on your own capacity to see deeply into things. Life everywhere is rich enough to be interesting; but we, on our part, have to be interested.”
As older people, we need to learn from the younger children who are full of wonder and frequently exclaim: “Wow!” or “That’s amazing!” or “Look, mum, look.” Children enter into life more easily than older people. Maybe that’s what Jesus meant when He said: “unless you become like a little child you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
I submit that the Pharisees, because life was easy for them (status, power, wealth), were bored, and resented Jesus for irritating them: they were not open to seeing God at work around them.
Let us pray for each other to enter into life around us, especially by taking a deeper interest in the people around us, and the environment in which God does amazing things every day.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI