Daily Reflection
October 16th, 2004
John O'Keefe
Theology Department
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Oddly enough, when I read today’s texts I find myself thinking of an old song by the 70’s band Pink Floyd. In it, the lead singer chants, “I have become comfortably numb.”  I don’t really remember what the song is about, but it is the image of comfortable numbness that has stayed with me over the years.  This reaction to today’s readings is not easy to explain, but it seems to have something to do with the juxtaposition of the passage from Ephesians with Jesus’ warning in Luke that sins against the spirit cannot be forgiven.  I do not presume to offer a definitive interpretation of the meaning of “sin against the spirit,” but comfortable numbness seems to me to be a viable candidate.

We live in a culture that specializes in numbness.  We have much, but feel we have little. We are surrounded by stimulation, but are easily bored.  We lack passion, but we are comfortable.  In such a state the words of Paul in the reading from the Ephesians seem to reach our ears as if they were crossing a great distance.  We hear them barely, but our attention is elsewhere.  We are shopping, we are investing, we are self-absorbed.  Paul, in prison, is shouting about the glories of Jesus, about his marvelous deeds, and about his great victory, and we yawn.  We mumble the response “you have given your Son rule over the works of your hands,” but we don’t really care that God has done this.  We have become comfortably numb. 

The spirit has a hard time working in a heart that has no desire.

My spiritual director tells me that the cure for numbness is gratitude.  It may be that it is also the best way to avoid blaspheming the Holy Spirit.   Let us pray to be grateful, but beware.  Such prayer tends to disturb our comfort.

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