October 17, 2019
Updated: Jan 27, 2020
During his 2016 campaign, Donald Trump regularly played the Rolling Stones song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” To me this displayed a certain irony for a political rallying cry. Nevertheless, it somehow demonstrates that from left and right, people are asking about and speaking about desire.
But what is it that we want? The answer is not always clear to us. We know we need certain things, but at the heart of the human experience there are deep desires that somehow drive us to all sorts of answers and all sorts of behaviors. In each case what we want is something that we sense will satisfy a felt need that comes from a sense of psychic and spiritual incompleteness.
This week’s gospel story speaks about a widow who comes to a judge constantly seeking justice. She had a sense that she had been wronged, her sense of fairness had been offended, she felt she had been given a bad deal by some unnamed opponent. The judge was basically indifferent to her pleas for justice, that is, a re-leveling of the playing field. But because of her persistence, the previously indifferent judge, responded positively to her request.
We start our spiritual journey by asking ourselves, what we are missing. This is a process of deep and honest introspection. We may have trouble articulating just what it is that we are missing. We may imagine we have received the injustice of poor parenting or perhaps family poverty. We might feel it is unjust that my ethnic group or nationality is discriminated against or that the system is stacked against us. Whatever the lack, whatever the injustice, we begin right there and we move ever deeper into seeing our own situation more and more clearly.
Ultimately, we might arrive at the position of Pascal, who said we all have a God-shaped void in hearts that can only be filled by God. Another way of saying this is that we are all meant to experience the completion that only compassionate love can bring through an intimate connection with another.
Some people have given up hope of finding any justice or love in this life. The gospel urges us not to quit looking, we are to keep seeking, keep knocking and keep asking until the desires of hearts are filled to capacity. The answer may not be exactly what we expected when we began our journey, but with persistence a meaningful and loving life is promised to those who persist, and is worth a lifetime of diligent pursuit.