October 19, 2016
by Julie Kalkowski
Creighton University's
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saints John de Brébeuf and Isaac Jogues, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs
Lectionary: 475

Ephesians 3:2-12
Isaiah 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6
Luke 12:39-48

Praying Ordinary Time

The ending of today’ gospel has always given me pause:  “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much…”   For many of us in America, there is no denying that we have been given “much”.    What are we called to do with this “much”?  Are we using it to follow Paul’s instructions to the Ephesians to be inclusive when he wrote” the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body and copartners in the promise of Christ...?”  Because many of us have been given “much”,   we easily share our food and our time with our loved ones.   But what about others we are not connected with through family, neighborhood, church or work? 

Peter’s question to Jesus in the gospel made me smile.  “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”  Is it in our DNA to separate ourselves into groups?   Often we need to be reminded that we are all “coheirs and copartners in Christ”?    This universal tendency to separate ourselves from people we see as different makes it harder to be inclusive and to see and to treat everyone as a child of God.

However, today’s gospel challenges us to “be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of God will come.”   As followers of Jesus, we must be prepared for those unexpected moments that happen in all our lives when we are confronted with the challenge of today’s readings to be inclusive and to live up to Jesus’ admonition that “much” is expected of us.  

How my mother has lived her life has schooled me well for these unexpected challenges.  As one of seven children, it was a rare treat to go anywhere alone with my mother.  One summer night in the late 1960s, I got to go with my mother to buy milk.   Goodrich was crowded that hot night.  After we had waited for what seemed forever to a nine year old, the clerk motioned to my mother.   However, my mother called out in a strong voice that two others were ahead of her in line and she pointed to them.   All of a sudden the air went out of the room as the customers getting to go to the head of a very long line were African Americans.  I inched closer to my mother as I could feel the anger growing in the packed store. Glancing furiously at my mother, the clerk waited on the two customers my mother said were in front of her.  I was becoming more frightened and embarrassed with each long minute that ticked by. Why couldn’t my mother just have gone first?   

Living as a Christian for my mother has meant treating everyone with fairness, even when it wasn’t convenient or popular.  I will never forget those hostile and irritable looks from the white customers when my mother refused to obey the custom of the day:  “If you’re white, you’re all right.  If you’re black, get back.”    Even more, I will never forget the looks of surprise and gratitude on the faces of the African American customers.  This unexpected gift of time with my mother turned out to be a major life lesson for me which still rings true, especially at this point in time for our country.

Today’s readings remind us that we all will have unexpected moments where we will be confronted with whether or not we believe that  all of us are God’s coheirs and copartners.   And we will have to choose, like my mother did that hot summer night all those years ago. 

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