|Memorial of St. Francis Borgia, S.J.
79:1-2, 3-5, 8, 9
"O Lord, deliver us... and pardon our sins for your name's sake,"
sings today's Psalm. The first reading from Baruch, one of the Apocryphal
books, gives us the exiles' confession that they have not listened to God;
they have disobeyed and have done evil deeds. But do I really want
to follow their example and acknowledge how I haven't listened and have sinned?
Do I really want to be delivered from my sins?
Certainly we want to be delivered from the bad things we don't choose, like
grief and loss, crime and fear, confusion and disappointment. Yes,
I'd choose that kind of deliverance. But my sins -- in that they are
sinful, I have somehow chosen them. To be separated from my comfortable sinful
ways threatens to involve some sacrifice. Do I really want to be delivered?
Haven't I rather enjoyed serving my other gods?
In the short Gospel passage, Jesus tells his disciples that the people of
several towns have chosen their sinful ways over really listening to Him.
I get the uncomfortable feeling that my 21st century American culture, like
Jesus's Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, isn't listening to Jesus and his
disciples. (The "disciples" include his early ones who wrote the Gospels,
and his 21st century ones, the good people who lead us in various ways in
the Church today.)
Jesus tells these disciples, "Whoever listens to you listens to me." Listening
-- that can be hard. Our lives are full of noise -- like the clamor of the
city, the crowds, machinery, TV, and the psychological tumult of news, schedules,
projects, clients, colleagues, chatter, and even the physical background
noises like pain, pleasurable sensations, weather. Also, it's not only
this American culture that doesn't hear; Jesus's teaching is either not heard
or rejected and contradicted all over this sad world.
But today, with my sense of sin and sadness, I suddenly realize that in simply
reading the Gospel, I am called to be among, or at least a follower of, what
I just called "the good people who lead us ....in the Church today."
They are the 21st century versions of the 72 or so disciples that Jesus is
sending out in today's Gospel, to be listened to or rejected in His name.
If today I can manage to ask -- truly -- to be delivered from my comfortable
sins, perhaps I can speak the Gospel I've heard, in words or in my way of