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Reflections on the Daily Readings
from the Perspective of Creighton Students

October 27th, 2013
Christian Andreen

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Today’s first reading states the Lord “does not ignore the orphan’s supplication, nor the widow’s, as she pours out her complaint” (Sirach 35: 14).  The Lord does not ignore the widow or the orphan, who were both historically the humblest, most disenfranchised, exploited members of society.  However, this is not really about God failing to ignore the supplications of these people.  The widow and the orphan represent everyone.  The reading goes on to state, “Whoever wholeheartedly serves God will be accepted; his petitions will carry to the clouds.  The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds: and until it does, he is not consoled, nor will he desist until the Most High takes notice of him, acquits the upright and delivers judgment.”  This next statement qualifies the first.  God hears the petitions of every humble person.  God is not here to work with your ego or my ego.  He’s here for me as long as I’m humble enough to see myself on the same level as the orphan and the widow.
God promises not to ignore the petitions of the humble, but we as human beings still do (and it isn’t because we’re bad people!).  I’m so guilty of this.  I think we ignore the supplications of others in society not because we don’t think these people should be listened to or because we think their prayers are irrelevant, but because it isn’t personal enough for us.  We see the widow and the orphan as the “other” or as “them.”  We do not see them as “us.” 

This summer I spent six weeks living in Villa El Salvador, Peru.  Villa is a “barrio” or a slum right outside of Lima.  While we lived there, we studied the theology of the Catholic Church.  Much of our time there was spent in the communal kitchens eating with the women and children we were living with.  Many of these women were not technically widows, and many of these children were not technically orphans.  However, these women and children were marginalized and excluded from society.  They lived in abusive relationships and were often scarred by violence.  A few weeks into the trip, we began to develop friendships with these people.  It was at this moment that the paradigm shifted.  We realized that there is not a true differentiation between an “us” and a “them.”  We were all there living in Villa together in solidarity; and as we became more and more humble many of us were able to perceive God in others in ways we never before imagined.  I think in a lot of ways, we came down to Villa like the Pharisee in the second reading, thanking God that we came “not grasping, unjust, and adulterous like everyone else, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here.”  We came feeling like we didn’t need God, like we could save Villa alone.  We left like the tax collector, realizing how much we needed the grace of God for everything, how much we needed his mercy just like the people we served.  We realized how completely dependent we were upon God, and in some ways it was a little scary.

All of these thoughts from today’s readings culminate in Timothy 4:6-8.  “As for me, my life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to depart.  I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come for me now is the crown of uprightness which the Lord, the upright judge, will give to me on that Day.”  Your life is being poured away as a humble offering.  Fighting the good fight to the end means letting go of yourself and becoming more and more like Christ.  The cool part about this fight is, as we learned in the first part of the reading, that if we choose to be humble then we do not have to fight alone.  We pour out our lives not just for others, but with others and with Christ.  I don’t know how many of you have ever run a race, but for those of you who have, the finish is not always glamorous.  It hurts, and takes everything you have.  So, I think this reading begs the question…do you have the will to finish the race knowing the glory that awaits you at the end of time?  How humble can you be?  How deep is your love?  Will love of others and of God wake you up before dawn, keep you up late at night, lead you to take risks you never imagined taking, and dare you to be vulnerable?  Do you have the strength of love to finish the race?

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