Confronting the question

By Father Dennis Meinen
View from the Scooter

Dag Hammarskjold was the former Secretary of the United Nations who was killed in a tragic plane crash in Africa in 1961 on his way to negotiate a cease fire. When his New York apartment was cleaned, his friends found his personal journal with a note saying it could be published in the event of his death. One entry spoke of his personal conversion. I have it on a plaque outside my apartment.

He wrote, “I don’t know who – or what – put the question. I don’t know when it was put. I don’t even remember answering. But at some moment I did answer yes to Someone – or Something – and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in self-surrender, had a goal. As I continued along the way, I learned, step by step, word by word, that behind every saying in the Gospels stands one man and one man’s experience. Also, behind the prayer that the cup might pass from him and his promise to drink it. Also, behind each of the words from the cross.”

At various times in our lives, we are all confronted with what Hammarskjold calls “the question.” It is one that confronts us in the depth of our soul. It involves our basic stance toward life. Our choices, when we answer yes or no to God at the deepest level of our being.

Remember the scripture reading from Joshua? It also had “the question” for us. It took place as a renewal or recommitment ceremony where the leader wanted to know who the people would now serve, who they would finally give their allegiance to. “Decide today whom you will serve.’”

Another Gospel also asked “the question.” It was the conclusion to Jesus’ “Bread of Life” discourse. It was the turning point or climax in Jesus’ ministry.

“Do you want to leave me, too?” Jesus asks his followers, some who doubted his teaching on the “Bread of Life” and who decided to walk with him no more.

Simon Peter’s answer, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,” tells us that the apostles have answered “the question.” They were willing to risk all as they followed Jesus.

It’s sometimes easy for us to lose touch with what really matters, regardless of our disability. Maybe we don’t have the strength to answer the question. But we must, even in the context of prayer. We must make the “leap of trust.”

Let us say as Simon Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life.”

Father Dennis Meinen serves as chaplain at Holy Spirit Retirement Home, Sioux City, for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the diocese and Calix; and Faithful Friar of the Garrigan 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, Sioux City.



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