Thursday if the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
(Philippians 3:3-8A; Luke 15:1-10)
Last week in a perceptive column author David Brooks analyzed the social ecology of American society. He said that Americans are becoming increasingly lonely. We spend way too much time by ourselves often in front of a computer. We do not join organizations as our parents and grandparents did. The resultant isolation triggers bizarre fantasies of power, suicide, or the yearning for drugs. Brooks calls for a war on “division, discord, and isolation.” But, he writes, the war is to take place not among different kinds of people but inside every human heart. Today’s gospel indicates both the ongoing war of the heart and the spiritual weapon necessary to win it.
Jesus tells the Pharisees and scribes of the need for repentance. He points to the tax collectors who are giving up their propensity to extort money from the people. He says that their moral turnarounds cause rejoicing in heaven. But it is not that the Pharisees and scribes are so righteous that they cannot precipitate a party among the saints. Rather, they and the rest of humanity have dark sides that need illumination. All people have hearts divided between loving and loathing, between serving and being served.
As wealthy, our society affords many people opportunities to live distant from others. Not only do many have their own households, they can also can work, shop, and recreate without leaving home. As luxurious as this may seem, we must resist at least some of it. If we are going to live in harmony with ourselves, we must interact with others. Jesus has already shown us how to do it. We should follow his example of civility, service, and friendship.