Memorial of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini
3 John 5-8
Psalm 112:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
A group of Creighton faculty and staff recently visited the Red
Cloud Indian School in South Dakota to learn more about the issues facing
American Indians and to assist some of the students in preparing scholarship
applications (for more information, go to http://puffin.creighton.edu/bucko/projects/immersion.html).
At mass on Sunday the gospel was the same as today’s and so my reflections
combine some of what we discussed and observed on the trip and also Fr. Bucko’s
thoughts on the gospel reading that day.
John observes that his readers are “faithful in all you do for the brothers
and sisters, especially for strangers.” Mother Teresa said “We are
called not to be successful but to be faithful.” What is faithful?
Is it loudly proclaiming that “I am a faith-filled person?” Or instead,
is it “You know I am faithful because you see how I act?” I think the
latter – a consistent adherence to a set of core beliefs, manifested by persistent
action based on those beliefs. John certainly implies that interpretation
when he says his readers are “faithful” in all they DO. So a faith-filled
person DOES and if we believe we are called to be faith-filled, then in our
dealings with our brothers, our sisters, and those strangers we encounter
(who are really our brothers and sisters that we haven’t yet had the pleasure
of meeting) we are called to DO consistent with our core. And if we
accept Mother Teresa’s statement, our lifetime measure should not be material
success but how well we have lived, followed our faith, been true to our
core, lived a life consistent with the call we hear from our conversations
with the Spirit.
The gospel parable involves a powerful judge and a defenseless widow.
In biblical times widows were not endowed with significant property rights,
and her continual requests probably were motivated by necessity as much as
the drive for justice. More than likely this widow was poor, not well-tended
by the rest of her society. Fr. Bucko challenged me to think of the
parable in an opposite way than I have before. He posited that the
judge could be us, and the widow could be God. Then the judge’s reluctance
makes sense – we are hesitant about doing justice (to be faithful) because
it pushes us where we do not want to go naturally. We hesitate because
we have to invest ourselves, and can’t be passive, or analytical, or intellectual,
but instead must be passionate, active and invested. We hesitate to
do justice because we share and relinquish, not amass, our own power when
we do so. And the widow, the persistent, nagging, constant pressure
to do justice, to be faithful, is our conscience, the power of the Spirit
flowing through us, calling us to listen, to act, and to relieve the concerns
of our brothers and sisters.
So when I synthesize my reflection on these two passages, I feel that I am
called to turn from my inclination to not get involved by this persistent
voice seeking justice and asking me to change, to do something, for those
least respected. My prayer today is that I can generously answer.