Monday, October 07, 2013

There Is Need Only For the Word

By Beth DeCristofaro

The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time:  “Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will tell you.” … Jonah began his journey through the city, and had gone but a single day’s walk announcing, “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,”  when the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small,  put on sackcloth. (Jonah 3:1, 4-5)

The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.  There is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”  (Luke 10: 41-42)

Gentle me, Holy One,
into an unclenched moment,
a deep breath,
a letting go of heavy experiences,
of shriveling anxieties, of dead certainties, that,
softened by the silence, surrounded by the light, and open to the mystery,
I may be found by wholeness upheld by the unfathomable,
entranced by the simple,
and filled with the joy that is you.
        (Ted Loder from Guerillas of Grace: Prayers for the Battle)

Perhaps Americans might consider sackcloth and ashes.  Or at least sitting down as Mary did, letting go of such things as anxieties and dead certainties, and open to joy filled God mystery.  On October 1, the USCCB released a challenge to Congress to do their work and administer – not impede – the government. 

Part of the release stated:  “…The bishops noted that the Catechism of the Catholic Church says it is the proper role of government to ‘make accessible to each what is needed to lead a truly human life, including food, clothing, health care, education and culture’.

"’In our country today, millions of Americans struggle to meet these basic needs, through no fault of their own, as a result of an economy that continues to fail to create sufficient economic opportunities,’ the bishops wrote. ‘Last year, the poverty rate remained at a 20-year high, over 1 in 5 children lived in poverty, and 49 million Americans were food-insecure at some point.’”  They added that 23 million Americans remain unemployed or underemployed.[i] 

Ironically, the first reading is the story of hard-headed Jonah who might have been very much at home in our culture of ideological opposition.  Jonah, who chose not to follow God’s command to go to Nineveh the first time had to learn his lesson by being swallowed, then saved out of a fish’s belly.  Following today’s passage, Jonah would sulk and complain to God that Nineveh was too quick to listen and did not deserve God’s mercy.  His attitude reminds me of so many leaders and talking heads – in our country and around the world – who say that MY way is the ONE way and I will not budge even when people’s food, clothing, health care, education, culture and lives are at stake.

What action can I take on behalf of those without food, clothing, health care, education or are isolated, marginalized, demonized?

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