July 7, 2018
by Barbara Dilly
Creighton University's Department of Sociology and Anthropology
click here for photo and information about the writer

Saturday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 382

Amos 9:11-15
Psalms 85:9ab and 10, 11-12, 13-14
Matthew 9:14-17
Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Finding Our Way Back Home: Getting Un-Stuck in Prayer Life

It does not surprise me that so many illustrations of justice in both the Old and the New Testament center on living in abundant lands where food is plentiful and their homes are safe.  We should all be able to relate to that vision in every age.  What is more basic than the human relationship to the earth, to God, and other humans?  Amos reports in the Old Testament today that the Lord will create a new order in which the people of God will be restored to the earth and to their homes.  There they will rebuild their gardens and their lives.  This is what God wants for all peoples – to live in peace and justice in their own lands yielding many benefits. 

Yet, that seems so difficult to achieve in so many parts of the earth.  Peoples everywhere seem to think it is their right to run other peoples from their lands, from their gardens, and from their homes.  This is nothing new.  The Old Testament is full of tragic stories of violence and rage toward others over lands and resources.  So, how do God’s people learn to live in peace?  How do they learn to live in kindness and truth?  How do they learn to walk with justice?  I agree with Pope Francis that it is when they learn to care for their common home and for others, to protect all the lands of the earth and their ability to provide for the needs of all people.  We certainly aren’t there yet.  We who claim to follow Jesus have a lot of work to do to if we want to dwell in our own land in peace and justice with all that we need restored to us.  To achieve that, we should also help others to enjoy the same blessings.  Food and environmental justice, it seems to me, is a good focus for that work.

Jesus tells us we can’t get on with what it means to follow him by putting new wine into old wineskins.  I think that means that if we hear Jesus and follow him, are not just simply the same old people who got chosen to be special.  We are a transformed people.  If we follow Jesus, we see a very different relationship between ourselves and God, between ourselves and the earth, and ourselves and others.  Our relationship with God is not just about God being with us when we take what we need for ourselves.  When we are transformed, we find a way to be men and women with and for others. 

The proclamations of peace and justice as central to our salvation that we read about in the Psalms today are difficult for most of us to hear because they are not just about our well-being as the people of God.  Our salvation isn’t just about the restoration of all that was taken from us unjustly.  It is about something much bigger.  It always is with God.  It is about working toward that restoration for others, too.  It seems to me that the lessons for today tell us that our salvation requires us to become transformed, to be made new, like wineskins, to fully follow Jesus.  It isn’t about following the old religious rules of piety better, it is about learning to live in new and better ways, in ways of peace and justice.  That certainly is my biggest challenge, daily, in following Jesus.  I always want everything to work out for me.  I follow the rules and think that is how I should be rewarded.  But at the end of the day, it is about something a lot bigger than that.  It always is with God.  I think the lessons today tell me that it is more about hearing the voice of Jesus and letting that voice transform me.  The question I need to ask at the end of the day is, “did I get my benefits, or was I transformed a bit more to let peace and justice walk before me in my steps to help others also get theirs?”   

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