July 17, 2016: 16th Sunday Ordinary C
This week I was asked by someone what she could concretely do to help with the recent events in our Baton Rouge community. Many of us have seen on TV this week, violence, confrontation, accusations, and death. It has also been a remarkable week of charity, peacemaking, engagement and hope. Many of us may have been pondering about issues such as racial relationships, civic responsibility, the role of police and their most difficult duties. Difficult but necessary conversations have been held around churches and in our homes; fervent prayers have been offered for peace and reconciliation. The question may remain, “Now, what should I do?” Jesus’ wisdom shared with Martha and Mary in today’s gospel may guide us in what our next action should be.
Mary and Martha showed us two sides of a coin--Mary’s desire to be in the presence of Jesus and Martha’s desire to act in response for Jesus. In reflecting on Martha and Mary, Pope Francis said, “In our Christian life, dear brothers and sisters, may prayer and action always be deeply united. A prayer that does not lead you to practical action for your brother — the poor, the sick, those in need of help, a brother in difficulty — is a sterile and incomplete prayer.” Holy Father also cautioned that service performed without taking the time for dialogue with God in prayer risks serving itself rather than God who is present in the brother in need. He said it is important to understand that the two attitudes, listening to the word of the Lord in contemplation and practical service to others, are essential aspects to our Christian life that should never be separated, but lived in profound unity and harmony.
The time for the Church to collaboratively work on aspects on racial and civic relationship problems that exist in the City of Baton Rouge and within the Diocese will come soon. Yet, before we collaborate on racial and civic issues, we must take time to get our own spiritual houses in right order. To this end, Bishop Muench has asked all Catholics of this diocese to pray, fast, and reflect during this coming week (July 16-24). Bishop Muench is asking us to ponder Psalm 139 which says that we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made” in the image and likeness of a loving, forgiving and merciful God. Please consider these two questions in your prayerful reflection this week.
1. What does it mean to you that we are all made in the image and likeness of God?
2. How can you acknowledge this great truth in your words and actions toward those whom you perceive as “different” from you?
This is time for us to depend on God’s grace and mercy, for we are not the source of all answers. May this time spent with Jesus lead us to a new place of understanding and reconciliation.
Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.