Monday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
October 31, 2022
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, what a beautiful prayer Paul spreads over his listeners. It is a prayer that calls all believers to live in love, peace, and reverence for one another:
Brothers and sisters:Philippians 2:1-2
If there is any encouragement in Christ,
any solace in love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,
united in heart, thinking one thing.
Reading this passage, I was immediately struck by the awareness of how much opposite messaging we receive in today’s world.
In the arenas of entertainment, politics, civic life, and – sad to say – even religion, we often hear a message contradictory to Paul’s. We hear civic and supposedly “religious” leaders tell their followers to attack, shun, fight, and even “hang” the other. Night after night on our TVs, we watch fictional characters act out the hate and crime that has become normalized in our culture. Our video games, music and movies are drowning in blood, hate and anger.
Sometimes, I am just astounded that we entertain ourselves with murder, war, rape and other outrages against human beings!
With the vicious attack on Paul Pelosi this week, as in so many other horrendous incidents of unbridled hate, we see a perpetrator sickened and abetted by the violent rhetoric our society has allowed. And perhaps even worse than the crime itself, we see political leaders not only minimizing the atrocity, but mocking the victim!
If St. Paul were here, what would he say?
- where is the encouragement in Christ?
- where is the solace in love?
- where is the participation in the Spirit?
- where is the compassion and mercy?
As a matter of fact, if St. Paul were here, I think he would wail in sadness!
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells us what a society should look like when it respects God and God’s Creation. It should be impelled by the deepest respect and tenderness toward the self and the other:
When you hold a lunch or a dinner,Luke 14:12-14
do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters
or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors,
in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;
blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.
Bottom line is this: a lot of people just don’t buy Paul’s or Jesus’s message. A lot of people would rather live for themselves to the expense of others.
But we’re not just “a lot of people”. We are Christ’s, and we must examine our speech, attitudes, choices and behaviors for anything that contradicts his message of love, mercy, inclusion, and mutual reverence.
The contradictions are subtle. Discovering and uprooting them takes honest and humble prayer. It requires a good look at how we entertain ourselves, how we confront those we disagree with, who we criticize and how we do it.
Several years ago, I was shocked when someone close to me announced, “I hate Obama!” I asked her why and she said, “I just do. I don’t need a reason!”
Where does all the hate in our culture come from? And, oh, how much more does it tell us about the haters than the ones hated! And of course, the essential question, “What can we do about it?”
Jesus made it simple. He told us to look around the “table” of our attitudes, behaviors and choices.
Who is welcome? Who is shunned? Who is embraced as a human being? Who is objectified and dispensed with as unimportant.
As in all solutions, we can begin with ourselves. Ridding ourselves of these contradictions requires that we listen to ourselves to see if, how, and why we ever use the word “hate”. Only then might we cleanse our hearts of its subtle poisons.
Prose: Two thoughts today
The enemy is fear.Mahatma Gandhi
We think it is hate,
but it is really fear.
Who would I be,Paula D’Arcy
and what power would be expressed in my life,
if I were not dominated by fear?
Music: At My Table – JJ Heller – a kinda fun video to watch!