1 Corinthians 2: 10b-16, Luke 4:31-37
A Dominican Sisters reflects:
With all that we’re presently dealing with in our nation: the Covid, systemic racism, a divided nation, hurricanes & fires, and for today a “Day of Prayer for Care of Creation,” how does the Word of God speak to us? It seems to me that much of today’s readings boil down to identity and commitment. Who are you and why are you here?
Our first reading today focuses on the Spirit. Before each worship service, we are encouraged to enter into the quiet of our spirit. Where does your mind & heart go when you do that? For some this might be the longest journey of the day; in other words, bypass the surface stuff that we often use to identify who we are: physical and intellectual strengths and limitations, unique talents. personality traits, accomplishments, failures, etc. Yes, these are all parts of who we are, but to go to the quiet of our Spirit, for me, is to go to the core of who I am. I find that takes faith, courage, and humility to go to that place of light and love, where the Divine Breath, the Ruah, brought me lovingly to life, and, at this very moment, lovingly holds me in the breath of life. Thomas Merton said: “Ultimately, the only way I can be myself is to become identified with God in whom is hidden the reason and fulfillment of my existence,” the who we are uniquely, and the why we are.
As a man of prayer and profound relationship with his God whom he called Abba, Jesus lived from this core. He knew who he was, and who he was not, where he came from, and where he was going. He was clear about what he heard at his Baptism: “This is my beloved Son”; and as we heard yesterday he resonated with Isaiah as to his mission: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, and anointed me to bring good news to the poor, release captives, give sight to the blind, and free the oppressed.” With Jesus it was not yes and no, but always “YES” to this identity and to this mission.
In today’s Gospel, people were astonished and amazed because Jesus spoke with authority and power in commanding unclean spirits. The authority that he exuded was grounded in his firm conviction of his identity, his loving trust in his Abba, and total embrace of his mission in his own time which involved a cruel tyrant, an economically poor and politically oppressed people, a Jewish culture marked by exploitation and publicly violent events, such as 2,000 crucifixions of Jews. It was into this darkness and desperate situation that Jesus by his words and deeds brought the light, love and truth of God’s saving, healing Presence.
Benedict XVI said that each of us is the result of a thought of God; each of us is willed, loved, and necessary. Yes, necessary! God has chosen to need the likes of you and me to be “co-creators” of his peace and justice as our Mission Statement declares. Have you ever let the awesomeness of what we claimed to be, co-creators, sink in? We have been baptized into the identity of daughters and sons of this God, the Body of Christ, and into his mission: to bring the light and truth of God’s saving, healing Presence into the darkness and desperate situation of 2020.
“What we are asked to do at present,” says Merton, “is not so much to speak of Christ as to let him live in us so that people may find him.” For me that happened in the late John Lewis who continues to inspire me. Lewis, like Jesus, astonished and amazed thousands in our nation by speaking lovingly the words of truth to the powers that be. Like Jesus, John Lewis knew who he was, lived the Gospel with integrity, and got into “good trouble.” He non-violently confronted injustice, prejudice, hatred and violence, even at great personal cost and suffering.
As we begin this Season of Creation, Pope Francis says: “Now is the time “to rediscover our vocation as children of God, brothers and sisters and stewards of creation.” Francis has asked us to make this a Day of Prayer for Care of Creation. Our Covid times have offered us the time and space for such prayer. The crisis is real, and prayer of repentance and for conversion is one thing each of us can do. Let it not be said of us, as Elizabeth Johnson describes it: “It is as if Earth were undergoing its agony in the garden, about to be crucified, and the disciples of Jesus are curled up fast asleep.” No, Dominican identity calls us to intentional study, prayer, and communal action. Seek truth, make peace, and reverence life.
“May the Abba of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts that we might know the hope that belongs to our call” as the children of God and the Body of Christ. Amen
Joan Delaplane, O.P.