August 30, 2020

View from the Faith Office

A reflection on the Gospel from the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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“You have seduced me, Lord, and I have let myself be seduced” (Jeremiah 20:7)

“O God, you are my God, for you I long, for you my soul isthirsting. My body pines for you like a dry, weary land without water.” (Psalm 62)

Jesus said, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let them renounce themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

Compassion. Generosity. Service. Hospitality. Peaceful. Inclusion. Justice. Simplicity. Humility. Equality.

These are the almost visceral words that come to mind when you read the very human stories of Jesus encountering the world and all who he meets on his journey through life. They churn in your gut and provoke an emotive response. It’s a beautiful, counter-cultural vision that, as today’s first reading from Jeremiah describes it, is almost physically seductive. If you fall in love with Jesus and his life-giving message, these words become a mantra that permeate your very core andinfluence every thought, word and action. A sort of new 10 commandments for everyday life and how to respond each day to the world and the people you encounter.

Ironically, Jesus got himself into a lot of trouble living by these words. Which is strange because they are such noble, selfless, heroic words. Yet they cost him his life. Funny that such goodness ended so badly for him. Yet he picked it, when he told his disciples these words were not easy to live by. “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let them renounce themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Not just because of the personal cost, these words confront and offend those who have, and especially those who have much. Years later the Brazilian Archbishop, Dom Helda Camara, succinctly explained why when he wrote: “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.”

Our world cries out for justice, and humanity craves something at the very core of our being that our world denies. The image from today’s psalm likens our very being to a “dry, weary land without water” thirsting, craving for something more. Something different. A new vision of how to be. Jesus did it with his total self-giving. He lived the words. And he changed the world.

Lord of the universe
Word of life
Open to us the riches of your teaching
That we discover as we enter into the gift that is this day.
Gentle guide
Lead us ever deeper into the mystery
Of who you are and where you are leading us today.
Keep us safe along the journey.
Spirit of God
Open our hearts to the wonders of your love
That we will encounter along the way.
God of Justice
Give us the generosity to share this love
With all we meet, that it may fan out
And heal a world crying out for mercy.

Amen

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