Immersed in Christ: August 8, 2020
SATURDAY of the EIGHTEENTH WEEK in Ordinary Time
The Responsorial Psalm calls us to a trust that transcends time: “You will never abandon those who seek you, Lord” (Psalm 9).
In our single reading from Habakkuk (1:12 to 2:4) God answers a question we keep asking throughout history: “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save?” (1:1). God’s answer is that we should not ask “how long,” but trust him: “There is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.” No matter how bad things are, or how inactive God seems, we keep re-affirming our hope: “You will never abandon those who seek you, Lord.”
In Matthew 17: 14-20 a man addresses the same question to Jesus specifically as a Savior who is not saving: “Lord, have mercy on my son…. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” What is different in this story is that the disciples are included. The father expected them to be able to heal. And in fact, Jesus had sent them out with this power. “Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness” (Matthew 10:1). So why have they failed?
Why do the disciples of Jesus seem to be failing today? Why has the Church not been able to heal society of its compulsion to keep destroying itself, throwing itself into “fire and water” by blind economic practices that keep packing tight the powder keg of poverty all over the world until it explodes in violence? Why have Christians not reformed the prison system, which responds to crime with a simplicity so primitive it could be called savage: just locking people in communal cages that become “universities of crime”? Why do church-going supporters of the death penalty believe that by killing those who kill they are showing respect for life? Why do we still prefer to make war against those who hate and attack us instead of asking ourselves (and them) what we are doing that makes them hate us so much? Why do we who are urged constantly to keep “changing our minds” through “repentance” (metanoia) prefer to demonize our enemies with propaganda instead of searching our own souls?
When the disciples asked Jesus why they were unable to heal he said, “Because you have so little trust. If you had faith the size of a mustard seed….” We need to read yesterday’s Gospel again and accept Jesus’ way of saving the world. Then we will be able to minister to society.
Initiative: Be a priest. Be willing to lose your live to save it and others.