The Tyranny of the UrgentFr. Barnabas Powell
Ever heard this phrase before: “The tyranny of the urgent”? I read a quote from someone that said “stress makes you believe everything has to happen right now, but faith allows you to trust in God’s timing.”
It never ceases to amaze me to see the frenzied activities of modern life. But it does no good to complain about the pace of our lives if we are unwilling to look deeply into the source of what drives us. If you haven’t figured it out by now, these daily writings are something of a peek into my own struggles!
You see, as we get the courage to examine the motivations and the causes of our actions and priorities, we gain insights into just those places in our lives that need the grace and wisdom of God. As we explore the vast mystery of our own heart, we are gently invited by the Holy Spirit to be healed of those broken places that fuel our self-destructive choices.
One of those places that has to be examined honestly is the question of what drives us. Why do we feel a powerful urge to defend ourselves? Why do we busy ourselves with such a multitude of activities that almost seem to be an attempt to drown out the doubts in our hearts? What is it that makes us “defend our honor” or demand “what’s right?”
In today’s Gospel Lesson (I take the daily readings from goarch.org for most all these little scribbles) Jesus is asked by what authority He is teaching and doing these amazing works. Jesus is approaching the last week of His life before the Crucifixion, and He has just “cleansed the Temple” by driving out the religious commerce in the Porch of the Gentiles that was suppose to be reserved for a place of gathering and prayer by those who were not part of the covenant of Israel. This was an area of the Temple set aside so that anyone, regardless of their ethnicity, could draw as close to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as they could. The people of Jesus’ day had turned it into something completely different. Now Jesus had come in and cleaned the place up! See Matthew 21:23-27 for the reading and the entire chapter for the whole picture.
The religious leaders of His day demanded by what authority Jesus had done these things.
Notice our Lord feels no need to defend Himself. He simply asks another question with the expressed intent to reveal the motivations and jealousy of His detractors. Being calculating and shrewd men, they pretend ignorance. Having done what His question was meant to do, Jesus lives in the freedom of His own heart and refuses to be driven by their expectations.
What a wonderful place to be! To refuse to allow the external circumstances of life to force my behavior! To have such a peaceful and clear list of priorities I am not enslaved by my circumstances to constantly be gripped by the “tyranny of the urgent.”
How do I get to this place? Well, to begin with, we must know ourselves well enough to discern between that which is needed and that which is not. Our Lord knew Himself, and He knew His calling, His mission. He was clear about “that which is most necessary” and He placed His energies and His actions toward this reality rather than the delusion of having to respond to all the outward circumstances that would demand His attention. Our Lord lived, and lives, in the freedom of His peace.
Today, understand that all the disciplines of the Timeless Faith are meant to create that kind of self-awareness and freedom in your heart. From your daily prayer rule, to the cycles of fasting and feasting of the Church Year, to the liturgical prayers and services of the Faith, to the very way of life prescribed by our Faith; these wise spiritual treasures are geared to invite you to a place of freedom and peace.