Daily Reflection
July 2nd, 2002
Maria Teresa Gaston
Center for Service & Justice
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Amos 3:1-8; 4:11-12
Psalm 5:4-6, 6-7, 8
Matthew 8:23-27

Monday night I snuck past our new neighbors while they were unloading a few things from their vehicle.  I was afraid of getting the kids mad at me for delaying (yet again) a family bike ride.  We crossed the street so as not to pass too near to them and be too obvious about our choice to ignore them.

It is still bothering me.  I have not seen them again, or taken over bread, or delivered a card of welcome.  I rationalize – I have been away with students in El Salvador, somewhat sick upon return, John had obviously wanted to talk that night while we biked and the kids were anxious as it was getting late.

So many rationalizations…
I wish my conscience was quieter sometimes.  Let me live my life.  I’m only one person.  I’m a mother.  I have a full-time job.  Give me a break.

In today’s readings, I’m confronted with more to stew about from the prophet Amos.  What an unwelcome character he would be on today’s scene.  In the first reading (and the surrounding chapters) he speaks a harsh word of judgment in the face of empty religious formalism and blatant unfaithfulness to Yahweh.  He condemns oppression of the needy and luxury at the expense of the poor. 

I am reminded of the modern prophets I was with in El Salvador:  John Giuliano and Jon Cortina, S.J., of Guarjila and Jesus Orlando of Paisnal.  Cortina reminded the 28 of us from Creighton and Marquette Universities “the Church is not an end, just a means for the kingdom.”  “Don’t go to church if you are not going to do anything for the one in need.”  He quoted Archbishop Romero to have said “Those who work for justice, even if they are atheists, are working for the kingdom of God.”  He added to that “if a person says they are Catholic or Christian, but does not do anything for justice, they are neither Catholic nor Christian.”   

Fr. Orlando (the pastor of the parish where Rutilio Grande, S.J., was killed for his ministry among the poor in 1977), challenged us to use our privilege well.  “If you do not work for justice you are like a comb for a man who is bald.”

OK, I guess I need to give thanks for this active conscience, this flame of divine life and love that flickers and burns within, disturbing my impulse to comfort and security.  God’s spirit is telling me we cannot tire or retreat… or worry or save too much for our children’s college education or our retirement when there are so many without access to proper education, adequate nutrition, heat, health care, clean water.

We make choices every day to be faithful to this word of God or not, to speak to our neighbor, to act to build community, to strengthen or establish just policies or to ignore and give in to our fears and market-driven preoccupations.  In and through these daily choices we are educating our children and young people as to the Christian way.  Our actions are what our children will remember of our catechesis and preaching.

The gospel today calls us to hearty faith.  JESUS, who knows our human needs (Mark and Matthew note Jesus was asleep), IS WITH US.  Let us call upon God with the confidence of the disciples in the boat.  Lord, in all our trials and daily turbulence, in the trouble of the evil and violence of our times, strengthen us to discern how we are to use the resources entrusted to us for the common good and thus for your glory.  Help us turn away from ways of unfaithfulness, from choosing luxury over justice.  Enliven your spirit with us, our nation, our world, to heed your call to do the truth and walk in the ways of justice and love.

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