Thursday, July 05, 2012

You May Know

You May Know

July 5, 2012
Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Amos answered Amaziah, "I was no prophet, nor have I belonged to a company of prophets; I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores.  The LORD took me from following the flock, and said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.'  Now hear the word of the LORD!"  Amos 7:14-16a

Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, "Why do you harbor evil thoughts?  Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk?'  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins?"  Matthew 9:4-6


Dear Lord,
May this stone, a symbol of my efforts on the pilgrimage, that I lay at the feet of the cross of the Savior, weigh the balance in favor of my good deeds that day when the deeds of all my life are judged.  Let it be so. 
(Prayer at the foot of the Cruces de Ferro on the Way of St. James)


Today, our first reading comes from the book of the prophet Amos.  His preaching on divine judgment and the sovereignty of the Lord over all in nature and society comes through loud and clear in today’s reading.  The themes expressed by Amos are consistent with the whole tradition of calling the people back to high moral and religious demands.  In many ways, Amos could be alive today and his message could resonate in our society as well as it did 700 years before the birth of the Christ child.
Although it may resonate, there is no telling that he would be any more warmly received today than he was in ancient Palestine.  There, Amos was expelled from the temple for confronting the “Powers That Be.”  Today, Amos could be at the gates of the White House, Congress or Supreme Court.  We might find a modern-day counterpart in McPherson Square or among the Occupy Wall Street movement challenging hypocrisy and injustice.
Afflicting the comfortable might have had its origin with Amos.  But Jesus, too, pushed people out of their comfort zone as his words and deeds challenged their perceptions.  Today, as he heals the paralytic child, the people are taken aback by how Jesus performs the act.  Rather than using a prayer of physical healing, Jesus instead offers a prayer of spiritual healing.  Once the spirit is healed by taking away sin, the body is healed as well. 


How are your physical infirmities tied to your spiritual life?  If you are in pain from an injury or disease, does that get in the way of your prayer life? 
Last night, Beth and I watched Martin Sheen in “The Way.”  Sheen plays the role of a father (“Tom”) who heads overseas to recover the body of his estranged son who died while traveling the "El camino de Santiago."  Tom decides to take the pilgrimage carrying the ashes of his son to allow Daniel’s spirit to finish the journey.  Tom joins up with several other pilgrims who all suffer from some addiction or affliction:  an overweight Dutchman, a chain-smoking Canadian woman and a struggling Irish writer.  Rather than retreat back to his California comfort zone of Baby-Boomer-ism, Tom re-discovers the difference between “the life we live and the life we choose." 
Sheen’s character Tom had to get out of his comfort zone and live life even after his son had died.  In some ways, he was closer to Daniel in death during the spiritual walk than when they were only an arms-length apart in the car. 
Near the end (spoiler alert), the pilgrims all leave a rock at the Cruces de Ferro.  The rock symbolizes sins we carry.  Leaving it behind frees them up to enter the cathedral in joy.  What’s weighing you down from living life to the fullest?  How can you rise, pick up your mat and walk freely with the Lord?

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