From a Creighton Student's Perspective
November 27th , 2007
Senior, Theology Major, Justice and Peace Studies Minor
The readings today really confused me. They seem bleak and hopeless. As I read, I caught myself thinking, “Can’t we get a break?” News sources are replete with stories of suffering all around the world: war, hurricanes, earthquakes, famine, and flooding. Intense human suffering is all around us if we only dare to look past the surface. But do we have to get the same depressing news from our scripture readings too? Yes. Yes, we do. I’m fortunate (and in the world’s extreme minority) in that I’ve never suffered directly from the horrors that permeate most peoples’ daily existence: I’ve never questioned where my food will come from or if I’ll have enough to eat; I’ve never worried that my home will be washed away by waters that shouldn’t be there; I’ve never had to hear open fire in the street outside my home. The Gospel forces us to recognize the realities in the world around us.
These readings remind me of the blessings and challenges involved in Christian life. We are called to be in community with others. But our community cannot shelter us from the rest of the world. They force us to look outward and engage the world around me. The readings remind us that if we’ve come to the Church to find shelter from the world, then we’ve come to the wrong place.
At the same time, the Gospel warns us of the false leaders who will come, proclaiming to be gods. It seems like an appropriate reminder during the build-up to election year in the US. That is not to say that political involvement in unimportant. I mean the opposite. We are responsible for bringing whatever tiny part of the Kingdom to realization on this earth; that means engaging the world in compassionate, critical ways. But the Gospel also reminds us that we must never stop being critical in our observations of those who come to lead us, for ultimately we are oriented towards God’s Kingdom. There is a tension in that because we live in this troubled, frightening, and worrisome, albeit graced, reality and yet it is not our ultimate destination. How do we reconcile those two truths?
To quote the poem attributed to Archbishop Romero, “Nothing
we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom
always lies beyond us…This enables us to do something, and
to do it well.” That is to say, we will work to build things
in this world and, like Jesus says in the Gospel, they will be torn
down and destroyed. But in our eternal praise and glorification
of God, lived out in love of our neighbor, we continue to move towards
the Kingdom. And that is the complete opposite of bleak hopelessness.
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