RESCUE US, O LORD, FOR THE GLORY OF YOUR NAME
(FRIDAY, OCTOBER 04, 2019
The Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi)
The first reading expounds upon disobedience to the Lord and the failure of the kingdom of Israel to listen to the prophets through the ages. Ancient Israel is taken to task in Baruch for its evil ways and failure to please God. As we turn to the Psalms the theme continues. The Gospel of the day heeds a similar warning. In today’s Gospel, Jesus has harsh words for people living in two towns. They were with him, heard Him speaking, and saw what He did. However, His presence, preaching, and actions did not move and transform them, did not cause them to recognize if they are on a wrong path and need to change their ways, and did not lead to a conversion experience. His words for people in Capernaum were even stronger because they not only ignored but even rejected Him and His Good News.
We can easily relate to the theme of sin and repentance in today’s readings. we know we’ve been guilty of failing to heed the voice of God, of turning away from God’s precepts and of doing our own thing. We can point to specific instances in our life where we disobeyed God. Jesus’ cry of “Woe” also translated as “Alas” continues the lamentation in Baruch while focusing on those sinners who reject the mercy and healing of God. The repetition of “we” in the first reading draws attention that the entire house of Israel has sinned against God.
Note that those in exile lament as a people, not as individuals: “we today are flushed with shame, we of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem, that we, with our kings and rulers and priests and prophets, and with our ancestors, have sinned in the Lord's sight and disobeyed…” The entire tribe of Israel feels shame and guilt over their collective sin. Likewise, Jesus does not lament over one individual, but over entire cities: Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. Suddenly, the passage is not just about my sins and me.
Western society tends to emphasize the individual over the tribe. So it follows that our understanding of sin tends to be about those individual acts we do or fail to do. Yet the Church also recognizes the reality of social sin, which arises out of individual acts to form structures of sin. These include racist and sexist attitudes that keep us from recognizing the dignity of all people, policies that oppress the poor, and the systematic failure to care for our common home, the Earth.
Reflecting on our complicity in these structures of sin elicits a deeper sense of our own guilt and shame. But it’s a pang of guilt and shame that we share with all those who also recognize their own complicity in these structures of sin. Jesus’ cries of lamentation take on a deeper meaning, prompting us to repentance and to accept the mercy and healing Jesus offers.
The Gospels portray repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation at the centre of Jesus’ preaching. We have been given the ability to respond to Christ through our Baptism. As Christians, we need to accept our response-ability to repent, forgive and reconcile with each other and with God. Our failure to be responsible for the least among us is our social sin.
Sin always harms our brothers and sisters and blocks communion with them and with God.
We have the ability to respond and the responsibility to “become the change we want to see in the world said, Mahatma Gandhi. God has given us a wonderful chance to repent of our selfishness and to reconcile with our brothers and sisters. We can be mother, brother and sister of Jesus and respond to God’s Word and to act on it.
Let Us Pray: Lord Jesus, help me to turn away from my sins and seek your face. May I desire and seek holiness of life above everyother thing. Amen.