Thursday, December 13, 2007

Like a River

December 14, 2007

Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, priest and doctor of the Church

If you would hearken to my commandments, your prosperity would be like a river, and your vindication like the waves of the sea; Your descendants would be like the sand, and those born of your stock like its grains, Their name never cut off or blotted out from my presence. Isaiah 48:18-19

The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, “Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” But wisdom is vindicated by her works. Matthew 11:19


Let us pray: Dear God, you never said it would be easy. You only promised that it would be worth it! Help us to live a life focused on the principles of Catholic Social Teaching as the authentic basis for loving each other. Amen.


As the popular song went while I was a teenager: “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden. All good things – including rose gardens – flow from the Lord. Yesterday the readings showed how the Lord would take barren landscapes and beautify them. In today’s readings, the promise of Advent – the coming Lord – vows to transform our very lives with wealth and justice and generations of descendents. Yet this transformation does not come WITHOUT a price. Indeed the price tag is quite high.

Matthew notes how Jesus had to endure the sneers and jeers of the people who watched him cavorting with sinners. Isaiah notes that prosperity only comes through following the commandments. Vindication is not handed to us like a gift wrapped up in a bow. God may not ask us to travel across the desert to Bethlehem on the back of a mule while pregnant. God may not ask us to raise a child that is not of our own flesh and blood. God may not even ask us to die on the cross. But God will ask us to pay some kind of price in personal toil, suffering or tribulations.

The greatest saints experience such trials, such “dark nights of the soul.” Recently, we even read that despite the depth of Mother Teresa’s faith and works, she also experienced years when she felt abandoned by God.

All this is the path to realize the promises of salvation. Following through on such promises also is reiterated in today’s reading from the Good News. According to the Notes to this passage in Matthew provided by the New American Bible:

“The meaning of the parable and its explanation is much disputed. A plausible view is that the children of the parable are two groups, one of which proposes different entertainments to the other that will not agree with either proposal. The first represents John, Jesus, and their disciples; the second those who reject John for his asceticism and Jesus for his table association with those despised by the religiously observant. Matthew 11:19c (her works) forms an inclusion with Matthew 11:2 ("the works of the Messiah"). The original form of the saying is better preserved in Luke 7:35 ". . . wisdom is vindicated by all her children." There John and Jesus are the children of Wisdom; here the works of Jesus the Messiah are those of divine Wisdom, of which he is the embodiment. Some important textual witnesses, however, have essentially the same reading as in Luke.”

Hearken! However, there still remains no free lunch. Hearken! The price for such prosperity and vindication is to listen and act. Hearken!


Make the world sweeter for cocoa farmers and coffee bean growers so that they suffer fewer trials and tribulations. Buy and use fair trade coffee and chocolate this year in your home and workplace.

Cocoa farming is a precarious business. The trees are vulnerable to various diseases and pests and although chocolate is one of the world’s favorite treats, the cocoa price often dips below the level at which it pays enough for cocoa small-scale farmers to survive.

So when farmers have a greater financial stake in their work and the bog corporations pay them a higher rate for their product, they can make a better life for themselves and their families. Read more about “fair-trading here. Then stop by Farrell Hall at St. Mary of Sorrows this weekend after Mass to buy some fair trade coffee or chocolate.

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