28th Sunday in Ordinary Time Reflection
We hear the groaning! With creation, we share a collective wound. All joy is gone and we feel that something important has gone, something has been lost. We still live the same life, perhaps even better than before, yet we are not happy, we are not satisfied, and we are impatient.
No matter how much I have, no matter how much I have been given, the hunger grows, the bitterness grows, the anger grows and we are lost, totally lost. The only hope for our burning thirst appears to be the grasping for more, always more; the abyss of hunger and the torture of our flaming thirst.
How did this happen to us, where did it begin to go so terribly wrong?
Let us stand as one of the 10 lepers and raise our voice, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us”. Remove the beam from our eyes so that we may see. Open our ears to listen and silence of fears of our hearts so that we may hear your words of life and live.
Allow us, Oh Jesus, to replay those images of our life’s journey where grace and gratitude began to seep away, drop by little drop, as wonder and awe, joy and hope, and finally, peace also left us. Help us to see without blinkers our place and our role in our families, in our communities, in our country, and in our world.
For many, this journey will begin as a child experiencing uncertainty and shame as love and affirmation became synonymous with expectations of performance; the need to be better than the other. Then follows that empty, sinking sensation of not quite being good enough. And so we developed from not being enough to not having enough; always scarcity and that great fear and shame. And each and every loss that has piled one upon the other become the heavy burdens we carry. The brushstrokes of the story may vary, but the wound is always present.
And so we listen in on that young child imaging this fear and shortage as an endless right to fill the abyss of that great hunger and thirst. This is my country, this is my mountain, this is my river, this is my forest, this is my ocean, and I deserve, my family deserve and my children deserve… More! Those others, those foreigners, those strangers, take what we deserve and so there is less. Now I have that scapegoat that represents all the fear and all the shame that I carry within me.
This is the ironic punchline in today’s gospel reflection; it is precisely those others, those foreigners, those strangers who open our eyes to the dignity and goodness and the needs of all human beings.
As all these rights replace the heart of gratitude within us, the arteries of grace become blocked. Without this grace, the next step is bitterness: why do I have less when they have so much? A little step further and we move into anger, a wave of raging anger that must destroy that which I cannot have.
Gratitude flourishes in the sphere of grace… “So that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase gratitude to the glory of God.”
In Christ, we have re-established the lineage of our ancestors to our very first ancestor, who is both our father and our mother. Through Jesus the Christ, we, therefore, have the courage to pray, “Jesus, Master, have mercy. We acknowledge our pride in our deceit. We acknowledge that we have sought other gods before you. We acknowledge that we have feasted while our brothers and sisters, in your new family, have gone hungry.
We acknowledge that envy has taken hold of us and our people, and we have become bitter and angry.
We acknowledge the suffering we have caused to those we have scapegoated, those outsiders, those foreigners, those who are different and all those we have judged unworthy. Yet, Jesus, in you we trust, in you we have hope, in you, we find the face of Mercy. Hear us and intercede for us so that our joy may once more be complete, and we may once again give glory and thanks to God.”