Thursday, November 06, 2014

Whatever Gains

But whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ.  More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  Philippians 3:7-8A

I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.  Luke 15:7

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.  By Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw

Paul’s knowledge of Christ led him to reassess the ways of truly pleasing and serving God. His reevaluation indicates the profound and lasting effect of his experience of the meaning of Christ on the way to Damascus some twenty years before.

Paul had a chance to reflect upon his awakening experience, his enlightenment.  He had to fall into darkness to emerge into the light. However, the martyred Jesuits from 25 years ago in El Salvador had very little time to reassess the way they served God. 

According to an article by William Bole, we are reminded that “in the predawn hours of November 16, 1989, an elite battalion of El Salvador’s military forced its way into the Jesuit residence at the University of Central America, or UCA.” 

UCA, led by its president, Father Ignacio Ellacuría, SJ, had become a stronghold of opposition to human rights abuses committed by the military.  Bole recalls, “On that night, soldiers dragged five priests out of their beds and into a courtyard, made them lay face down on the grass, and fired bullets into their heads. They went back inside and killed another Jesuit. Then, searching the residence further, they found a housekeeper and her teenage daughter crouching in the corner of a bedroom, holding each other. The gunmen shot them too.”  One night.  Eight martyrs.  Now, 25 years later, many are still waiting for justice in the case of the murdered Jesuits and women.

Our loss remains loss without justice.  Our loss remains loss without reconciliation.

We study St. Peter and St. Paul because their lives give us a window into our OWN lives.  In the case of the Jesuit Martyrs from El Salvador, the witness of their lives is what matters.   

“The case is important. But the focus shouldn’t be primarily on the people who pulled the trigger, or the ones who gave the orders. It should be on the martyrs and their commitment to the Gospel, the kind that leads us to defend the lives of the poor today, going forward.”  Their witness helps us to reevaluate the profound and lasting effect of how we experience of the meaning of Christ on the way to our daily Damascus be it in the District, Fairfax, Alexandria, Hagerstown or points beyond.

How have we been lost like Saul?  How have we become found like Paul?

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