Daily Reflection
September 26th, 2000
Joan Lanahan
Nursing School Chaplain
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Proverbs 21:1-6, 10-13
Psalms 119:1, 27, 30, 34, 35, 44
Luke 8:19-21


Remember when you were a child and how important Christmas was to you and all children?  Did your parents tell you that Santa knows if you've been good?  If you were naughty, you received a lump of coal.  I wonder if that myth is alive today!

God wants us to be good also.  Jesus talks plainly about goodness, and does not mention a lump of coal!  In Luke, Jesus speaks of "those who hear the word of God and act on it."  This harkens back to Luke 4:l8 where Jesus announces himself as the one anointed to "bring glad tidings to the poor, liberty to captives, sight to the blind, etc."  Here Jesus broadens the perspective of those listening to a wider picture of family and of the poor.

Family in Jesus' time were the locus of life, family and clan.  All were expected to be loyal to the family, even to the point of revenge against those who hurt one's family.  Jesus is saying that all who hear and act on God's word are family.  What do families do?  They attend to the needs of their own.  So, we are to attend to the needs of the poor.

Who are the poor?  We are all poor.  When did you feel imprisoned in others' expectations of you, or your own that are too high?  When did you grieve and have no one with whom to share your tears and aches?  When have you felt so alone and couldn't speak of your fears or angers or resentments?  When did you go through a crisis and your family wasn't there for you?  When did you feel trapped in your addiction?

Yes, we are called by God to be attentive to the needs of the economically poor.  We can empower others to voice their needs and to stand up for themselves in a society that can barely hear them.

Proverbs says "God knows our hearts" and exhorts us to be righteous, to be in loving relationship with the poor.  Let's remember that we are all poor in spirit sometimes.  Maybe a poor one is in your family, a sad spouse or a wild teenager or a lonely older parent.  Maybe you work with someone who needs a friend with a listening heart.  Perhaps you ache and its time to deal with your own suffering.

Be Jesus and listen to the poor---ourselves and all others.

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