I ran across this picture on Facebook today, and it touched me. Sr. Thea Bowman, always touches my heart. This is especially true when I think of her courageous final days of life as she continued to live out her vocation. I also remember her singing to the Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops. I imagine she must have made more than one Bishop uncomfortable, or at least, I hope so. Sr. Thea Bowman sings here
Either way, as I came across this picture and as I watch the video of Sr. Thea singing, even as she was too sick to stand, I was touched because it reminds me of who I am called to be, and to be perfectly honest, that scares me. Just the other day, I was reflecting on what it means to be a priest, what does it mean to be entrusted as an envoy of God's love, and how am I to continue being this person in today's world, and more specifically, here in West Texas? The Gospel in this Sunday's readings is particularly challenging because in so many ways it reminds me that when you do the Gospel right, it can be uncomfortable. This is especially true today when we are so used to seeing pastors in their private jets, or mega churches that spend millions on lights and technology. In a society where the Gospel of Prosperity is more fitting for the tv show "Lives of the Rich and Famous," than the poverty and simplicity of Christ, I am called to service, and we are called to service. As Christ sat and read this passage from the Hebrew Scriptures, people looked at him with some consternation. I can almost imagine the viejitas (old ladies) whispering among themselves as they remark of Joe's son. I can hear the crowd looking at Jesus with some suspicion, after all, they know him, and they know his family, but here he is, reading the scripture. When Jesus is done, he then looks up at the crowd and speaks... "This passage is filled in your hearing." Then he goes on to remind what the scripture says about God's love being made real in the olden days. He reminds them of how stubborn of heart and cold they are and challenges them to envision God today. As you can imagine, they do not like this, and they want to kill this twerp. But in the melee, Jesus escapes. What does this mean for us today though? It's a nice passage, and we've obviously heard it before, so what? This is where I believe things get tricky. In particular, this is where I believe now turns to look at us and challenges us to envision the same things he invited those people in the synagogue to envision. We are not a people that is meant to go about our lives empty and complacent, instead, we are a people who are meant to love and live. We are a people who stand up as a body and celebrate the different gifts that each one of us has to offer, and we are a people that recognizes that when one part of the body hurts, we all hurt. More importantly, we are a people brought together in the love of Christ. We are to be one body, and yet, we are so often ready to tear each other apart. In the false race to be the "one true church," we forget what it means to be Church and to be Christian and we go about our days looking for new methods of gaining members. Instead of counting numbers, what if we lived out our lives in an authentic manner? What if we were able to recognize the other as a brother or sister and not have to place titles on them or box them in? What if in our daily lives, we took the words of Christ and allowed them to become fruitful? What if we became the fulfillment of God's love today? These are all questions that have no true answer, but I refuse to believe that I must be limited by boundaries that are very much human. God's love cannot and must not be contained, because when we live that love out, we discover that today, this passage, and so many others, are fulfilled. My prayer is that one by one we may become the fulfillment of God's love and that in doing so, we remember who we are, and whose we are. As always, know that you are beautiful and you are loved. Peace to you. Fr. Rick
Sr. Thea, pray for us.