During the ABC sports coverage today, mention was often made of the “violence committed against women, that one in four of all women are victims of some form of violence.” And here was I wondering how I was going to survive another swarm (?) of mosquitos!
“You love all that exists, you hold nothing of what you have made in abhorrence, for had you hated anything, you would not have formed it” (First Reading).
So we need to search out why we behave so badly and what was His purpose in giving us mosquitos. The Gospel throws light on the former, but not the least part of our dilemma.
Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector, a wealthy man then, and a person to be reckoned with. He seems to have been a more humble person than many in powerful positions in the Gospels. His words and actions seem to indicate that Zacchaeus was seeking to see and takes the opportunity to announce himself to the one who came to seek and save. He does not know that he is being sought …and saved!
There are four stories in this section, all about the Prophet Jesus on his way to Jerusalem encountering helpless children, blind beggars and even the tax collectors, continuously reaching out to the poor, the outcasts and the deprived with Good News. This aspect of the Good News does not feature on Grandstand on a Saturday afternoon. I think it ought. Can we find a way?
Pope Francis stunned some, was admired by others and was condemned by a few when he answered a question with these words: “I am a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze.” We probably know where he stands, kneels or sits when he approaches his prayer time.
The widow last week had a fairly determined and robust approach to her prayer. She kept at it. This week we are given two further examples of people at prayer. Firstly, the “look how good I am” approach. This demands an answer from God (because I am so good and do so much, especially when I compare myself with others). On the other hand, the prayer arises from an acute recognition of the reality of creature and Creator.
Everybody has a theory on prayer. No one method suits all. But pray we must. Luke seems to favour the approach that prayer is faith in action. Prayer is not an optional extra. It is not a simple exercise in piety. It can become, so it seems, that for Luke your prayer describes your relationship with your God. It follows, then, that the way you pray reveals the truth of that relationship: flippant, take it or leave it, demanding, or it happens only when I need something.
Pray we must.
Faith calls us to “cry out to the Lord” day and night. For it recognises that “without me you can do nothing.”
P.S. Team Oceania meeting is this coming weekend. It’s hand-over time. Your prayers please.
Justice and the Court House!
The TV loves to have those ‘door step’ in your face interviews which regularly begin with “Are you satisfied? ” or “Do you think the sentence was enough?” Rarely does the viewer receive any indication about the facts or the difficulties of the case. Today we have to grapple with an innocent petitioner who is being denied justice. Perhaps imagine the widow arriving swinging her old battered shopping bag and attempting to land a blow or two on the unjust judge. There is no sympathy for him. The law was clear. Any God-fearing jurist would feel obliged by the Torah to take special care of her. He did not. He was indifferent and did not change his mind until he realised that she meant business and he could end up with a black eye… and no one would care. He might even lose his job next time, if appointments were made! Perseverance!
So why is this parable directed to the disciples? We have just read a series of occasions with Jesus addressing all sorts of people and offering them the same message: a simple “Believe me and my words.” The common response was indifference and on occasions the leaders actually mocked him! He repeats the message again and again, just like the widow. Jesus wants justice for God’s chosen people.
It will take time, for we act a little like the unjust judge. We know we can do better. We know ‘the Torah’. But we delay, we procrastinate, we drag our feet. God is faithful and keeps banging us around our ears with the divine handbag.
God’s mercy and long suffering are not in doubt.
However, are there any ‘widows’ in our world today who “cry out to him day and night”?
Keep on keeping on!
Was it leprosy as we know it or was it a skin disease that frightened people because there was no known cure? We are not free of that style of response, even today! Their response then was to expel them, hide them away, anywhere out of sight and then it becomes easier. It’s ‘their’ problem and certainly not mine. Again a solution not uncommon in our time.
So, again, the context. On the border with Samaria, no love lost there on both sides. Jesus, the true Jew, with ample understanding of the Jewish laws, not only about mixing on a social level, but the demanding dietary and purity laws governing contact with the “lepers.” Leave the food near the camp… don’t go in… don’t mix… otherwise you will not be welcome in the Temple for worship. The current practise of breaking a muffin and having a coffee on Sunday morning was not an alternative in 30 AD.
So he made a big decision and even in these circumstances, the Chosen race let him down. Only the Samaritan came back to give thanks.
It does not take much effort to give thanks or to take two mules’ loads of soil as a sign. Nor do we necessarily need something hard and difficult to be accomplished before Our God will respond. St Therese’s “little way ” reminded us of the greatness of God’s love. Perhaps this week we might look for the little things, a good morning to those we meet might just cleanse their day.