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Monday, September 02, 2013

Not peace but a sword

In World Youth Day recently, Pope Francis asserted that we are called to shake things up, to be messy in evangelizing the world. How messy can we be if we are called to be meek and humble? How so was Christ? In today's Gospel from Luke (4:16-30), he starts out with "gracious words" --

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

Nice start, but then he shakes things up --

‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.’

I don't like confrontations. It's messy, but seems to me that I have no choice if I am to follow my Master. Last week he was hurling "brood of vipers!" and "hypocrites!" at certain authorities in his time. I would hate to be on the receiving end of that, but what if there is need to correct my brother or sister or child if they were risking something perilous to their lives? God help me say what needs saying with true love, which must sometimes be tough love (for their sake!), But I truly would prefer if I can speak with gentleness in my voice, even if the words must be unyielding and inevitaby shaking things up.

Most of all, may those who love me speak so to me when needed, which is very often, and may I have the honesty and humility to take their words to heart, and so amend my life as it depends on my willingness to be corrected!

This is apt from The Imitation of Christ (from today's Office of Readings), spoken from the Lord's perspective:

I visit my elect in a double fashion: that is, with temptation and with consolation. And I read to them two lessons each day: one to rebuke them for their faults; the other to exhort them to increase their virtue.

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