Thursday, September 29, 2022

Sunday Gospel Reflection, October 2, 2022: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed...

Is your faith enough? 

    The prophet Habakkuk is disturbed by all he experiences: How long, o Lord, must I cry for help, and you do not intervene? The people of Judah know that the Babylonian invasion is imminent; Habakkuk speaks of destruction and violence, strife and clamorous discord. The general sentiment is one of frustration at God’s ostensible abandonment of Judah. But God’s response to Habakkuk is clearly meant to reassure: God’s plan will not disappoint, even if the people have to wait for it. They may have to lose everything and be sent into exile, but they will return, and should be patient with the Lord; they should trust God, for the just one, because of his faith, shall live. They must, as Psalm 95 exhorts, harden not their hearts, but should bow down in worship and praise God, not because God does what they want, but because ultimately, God is and will continue to be the Rock of their salvation who has sustained them and will continue to sustain them through all. 

    Even with Jesus physically present with them, the apostles in Luke’s Gospel need to ask him, Increase our faith. Faith is always a free gift from God; it is not theirs to wield or control, but to open themselves to, to accept. Unlike the unprofitable servants of which Jesus speaks, we must not expect God to be grateful that we have followed his commands; rather, we should participate in all God has called us to do, open to his will, and true to his call. For faith is not about how much we can control our existence; faith is trust in the Lord who controls it – even when we don’t understand what he is going to do. 

   Timothy knew such frustration firsthand. He has been given the gift of God through the imposition of Paul’s hands, and is now leader of the Christian community at Ephesus. But his role is called into question because he is young. Paul exhorts Timothy to take the faith he has received and trust it will be enough to allow him to bear his share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God. If it is God’s love that drives us, we cannot fail; if we hold to his spirit of love, our faith will be stirred into flame as Timothy’s was. Such faith, though it be merely the size of a mustard seed, makes the impossible possible, and that faith, a free gift from God, is enough, always. 

This post is based on Fr. Pat’s Scripture class.
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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The vanity of our false distinctions (Robert F. Kennedy)

    We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of all. We must admit in ourselves that our children’s future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled nor enriched by hatred or revenge.

--Robert F. Kennedy,
Remarks to the Cleveland City Club,
April 5, 1968

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Quotation source

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

To share what we have (Haley Stewart)

    Mere minimalism is an incomplete solution to our consumerism. If we ignore a deep generosity to share what we have with others and if we are unwilling to accept help in return, we have not adopted a Gospel mindset.

--Haley Stewart,
The Grace of Enough:
 Pursuing Less and Living More
in a Throwaway Culture

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Quotation source

Monday, September 26, 2022

To suspend our egos (George Eliot)

   The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos in another’s world.

--George Eliot     

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Sunday, September 25, 2022

Diversus and Lazarus (Steeleye Span)

As it fell out upon a day
Rich Diversus made a feast.
And he invited all his friends
And the gentry of the best.

Then Lazarus laid him down and down,
Laid him down at Diversus' door.
“Some meat, some drink, my brother Diversus
Will you bestow upon the poor.”

“Thou art none of my brothers, Lazarus,
That lies begging at my door.
No meat nor drink will I give to thee, Lazarus,
Nor bestow upon the poor.”

Diversus sent his men
To whip poor Lazarus away.
But they had no power to strike a stroke
But flung their whips away. 

Diversus sent his hungry dogs
To bite him as he lay.
But they had no power to bite
But licked his sores away.

It fell out upon a day
Poor Lazarus grew sick and died.
There came two angels out of heaven above,
His souls thereto to guide. 

“Rise up, rise up, my brother Lazarus,
And you come along with me. 
There is a place prepared in heaven
Upon an Angel's knee.” 

And it fell out upon a day 
Rich Diversus sickened and died.
There came a serpent out of hell,
His souls thereto to guide.

“Rise up, rise up, my evil brother,
Won't you come along with me.
There is a place prepared in hell
Upon a serpent's knee.”

If I were alive again,
In the space of one half hour
I would make my peace secure
And take the devil's power. 

To hear the 1969 British folk rock band Steeleye Span perform Diverses and Lazarus, based on today’s parable in the Luke’s Gospel, click on the video below:

Image source: Bonifazio Veronese, 
Dives and Lazarus (1540s),
History of the Folk Song
Video source

Saturday, September 24, 2022

We have to feel for one another (Audrey Hepburn)

   Nothing is more important than empathy for another human being’s suffering. Nothing – not career, not wealth, not intelligence, certainly not status. We have to feel for one another if we’re going to survive with dignity.

--Audrey Hepburn

Image source: Vincent van Gogh, Old Man in Sorrow (At Eternity’s Gate),
Quotation source

Friday, September 23, 2022

The answer really is kinship (Fr. Greg Boyle)

   OK, the answer really is kinship. Everybody’s so exhausted by the tenor of the polarity right now in our country. And the division is the opposite of God, frankly. I always think of Dives with Lazarus — Dives is in here not because he’s rich, but because he kind of refused to be in relationship with Lazarus — that that parable is not about bank accounts and heaven, it’s really about us. And so what’s on Jesus’s mind? He says that all may be one. And that’s kind of where we need to inch our way closer — that we imagine a circle of compassion, then we imagine nobody standing outside that circle. God created, if you will, an otherness so that we would dedicate our lives to a union with each other. 

 --Fr. Greg Boyle SJ 

Image source: Fedor Bronnikov, Lazarus at the Rich Man’s Gate (1886),