Monday, July 06, 2009

His Heart Was Moved With Pity

July 7, 2009

Tuesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro

Jacob named the place Peniel, "Because I have seen God face to face," he said, "yet my life has been spared." (Genesis 32:31)

In justice, I shall behold your face, O Lord. From you let my judgment come; your eyes behold what is right. (Psalm 17: 1-2)

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest." (Matthew 9:35-38)


Jesus, help me with confrontation I might meet as I try to follow you. May I stand strong in the face of resistance from others, knowing that you are with me. May I be weak and fall back on you when I encounter resistance within myself. Each day I will take up your mission for me with gladness. I know that you will heal me as I need; help me to offer your healing to those I meet. With trust in your mercy and love, Amen.


Jesus knows that the leaders are denouncing him and plotting against him but he continues to be with those in need, people “troubled and abandoned”.

Years ago, a dear friend told me that “the more toys you own, the more you are owned and weighed down by your toys”. I often think of her words, when I find myself “caught” by one of my toys. This weekend, for example, I am painting a room and will be painting another next weekend. These rooms need it, neither having been painted since their adolescent owners grew up. Painting, itself, I enjoy. The preparation and moving of every blessed thing within the space is tedious, boring and frankly exhausting to me. This kind of chore will often frustrate me and I can become cranky.

What can Jesus’ gentle action say to me? His message to me is one of priorities. On one level, Jesus’ life reminds me to choose my “toys” carefully. Upkeep of a home is necessary – stewardship is an important virtue whether it is of our possessions, our environment, or our social order. But how much time do I invest and in what manner? Do I spend for only the best and only the most put-together, forward design? Do I neglect my friends and family because something needs to be vacuumed, cleaned or redecorated? Is this “toy” a focus rather than a duty?

On another level, how do I accomplish my duties? Am I cranky and unyielding? Do I abuse my family members as I request their help but criticize their work? Do I shut them out and request that they leave me alone? Are there strict rules which I demand everyone follow and pout when it doesn’t happen? And am I offended when no one jumps in to assist me…even if I do not ask for assistance? Bottom line: do I really want to spend time with dry wall and tape rather than my husband or kids?

Jesus’ deep awareness of the needs of those around him can offer me a model. I can look at these chores as a duty of love and an opportunity for “walking meditation”. Being mindful of work, as the Benedictines are, is an opportunity for prayer and self-awareness. Rather than blowing up when the paint drips on the carpet, I can take a moment to ask God for patience and love for the person (even if it was me) who caused the drip.


Be aware for what I am laboring. Jacob labored long and hard with the divine. Are my efforts toward the divine? Am I stuck in superficialities rather than free, grounded in the grace of God? Jacob was struck and rendered lame by his struggles with the divine. Do I find myself lamed by my anger, rigidity, judgments, expectations that can only be met in God? After all, in a few years I will be painting these rooms again!

During your next routine chore, give in to it as a space to meet God by meeting yourself. Be aware of God’s presence and be aware of how you are meeting this chore. Are you a gateway for God to enter the world or a blocked up opening?