Todays’ First Reading, Jonah 4:1-11, has Jonah angry with God because God has not carried out His threat to punish the people of Nineveh for their sins. God sent Jonah to them to preach conversion, and they were converted to Jonah’s dismay. Instead of rejoicing at their conversion, Jonah is angry. He says to God, “I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in clemency, loath to punish.” Jonah is resentful that God is merciful.
Can you identify with Jonah? I can.
Can I ever relate to today’s Gospel, Luke 10:38-42.
Martha and Mary and their brother, Lazarus, are good friends of Jesus. Their home is a place of hospitality for Jesus where he can get respite from the demands of His ministry. Martha is a frantic worrier running around and trying to have everything go well. Mary is not as concerned about detail but rather focuses on the person of Jesus , just sitting at His feet and listening to Him. This annoys Martha no end – and I can relate to Martha and her concerns. Martha reaches her limit and complains to Jesus asking Him to tell Mary to come and help her. Jesus says to Martha (He could be speaking directly to me!):
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things… ” That’s me, all right! And Jesus reminds Martha (and me and perhaps you, too!), “There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” It isn’t that Jesus dismisses Martha’s efforts and her good works; rather He asks her to put things in perspective. He reminds her that cultivating a relationship with Him is what is most important, and to cultivate that relationship, we must sit quietly at His feet and listen to Him.
Who is my neighbor?
Today’s Gospel, Luke 10:25-37, goes right to the heart of the Christian message.
A scholar of the Law asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asks him what is written in the Law. The scholar replies:
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
And Jesus says to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” The scholar takes it further and asks the crucial question: “And who is my neighbor?” Ancient peoples – very much like people today – were very tribal, very ethnic, very racial. They were bound to ‘love’ their own kind but not necessarily anyone else. ‘My neighbor’ was a very restricted world. Jesus replies to the scholar by telling him the story of a man who falls into the hands of robbers who beat him up and leave him half dead by the side of the road. A priest walks by and later a Levite and they both pass him by. But a Samaritan, a despised half breed, comes upon the man and is moved with compassion. He attends to his wounds and brings him to an inn to be cared for and pays for the man’s care. Jesus asks the scholar of the Law, “Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robber’s victim?” The scholar replies, “The one who treated him with mercy!” Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”
This story teaches us that every one – every single human being – is our neighbor. Jesus’ teaching is all-inclusive. We are to show compassion and mercy to everyone. If we took the words of Jesus seriously, we would be living in a more peaceful world.
Today’s First Reading, Genesis 2:18-24, is all about humans as relational beings.
“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him …..'”
It is not good for any of us to be alone. We need to be connected to other humans, e.g., family, siblings, spouses, friends – someone! We need to be able to share our joys and sorrows with non-judgemental others; others who will listen to us and when necessary correct us in love. From my perspective, the most horrible thing is to be disconnected from God and others. We know that we can be alone and connected; we also know that we can be in a crowd, smiling and talking and feel that we are a million miles away. Being connected is more than physical presence, it also means emotional presence. We need to be fully present.
…… it is not good for the man to be alone, says God. Blessed are we who have others in our lives. May we pray for those who have no one. May we reach out to someone who is alone!
Somewhere along the line, I came across the following:
it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work.
it means to be in the midst of those things and still be
calm in your heart.
And the peace that you and I crave is the peace that only Jesus can give!