Friday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time
(Baruch 1:15-22; Luke 10:13-16)
In 1863 Abraham Lincoln signed a bill declaring a “day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer.” America was experiencing the blight of civil war and rightly held itself responsible. “We have forgotten God,” the bill declared, and also “we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace.” Such a public call to repentance would never be made today. But it is exactly what Jesus expects in today’s gospel.
Chorazain, Bethsaida, and Capernaum – these are not notoriously bad cities. There sin is likely a malaise that prevents them from noticing that the Messiah stands in their midst. Rather than repent, they carry on business as usual. Jesus declares that they have missed their opportunity, that their train left the station, that they will be left in oblivion.
Just because our nation may never repent does not mean that individuals or groups should not. We do offend God and should ask pardon and do penance. While we are at it, let us go beyond the superficial. We get angry ourselves and make others angry, but these are hardly the worse of our sins. More grievously, we lie, lust, and ridicule. We ignore the needs of others while we forever grasp at what our hearts desire.
Monday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary time
(Jonah 1:1-2:2.11; Luke 10:25-37)
A few years ago a leading Catholic university removed the crucifixes from its classrooms. Having a multi-ethnic student body, the university administration reasoned that the crucifixes might offend students of other religious traditions. One Muslim student, however, was bothered by the removal. After all, he asked, what kind of guest would he be if he could not respect the symbols and artifacts of his hosts’ religion? Eventually, the crucifixes were returned to the classrooms, and their removal, no doubt, was attributed to political correctness.
The Book of the Prophet Jonah similarly testifies to people from other religions showing greater sensibility to true religion than they of the dominant tradition. Jonah, the Jew, is disgusted with the Lord for his parallel love of other peoples. He flees when God commands him to preach in the city of Nineveh, Israel’s captors. In his flight the sailors on the ship that transports Jonah show more regard for the Lord than he. They pray to God for help and shudder to think that their act of appeasement may not please God.
We find Jesus making a similar point in the gospel. He describes the Samaritan who comes to the aid of the dying stranger as giving God greater praise than the priest and Levite who, most likely for liturgical reason, would not touch him. Everyone is wise to recognize the Holy Spirit working among different peoples and religions just as surely as it lavishes graces upon her or him.