16th Sun B Getting a Life
Even though it’s mid-July, intimations of autumn are already in the air. Leaves that only a month ago stood upright and to attention on the oaks, yews, pines and elms are now at ease, relaxed. Some are starting to droop. A few have begun to lose their grip and fall to the ground. Blackbirds and foxes and squirrels and rabbits and all kinds of critters will soon start to feed and fatten themselves for winter. The slowly changing seasons makes one wonder about God’s care for creation. We humans are an integral part of nature. “God didn’t make a commitment or covenant to protect humans while allowing most of the rest of creation to be wiped out or despoiled” writes theologian Donal Dorr. God cares for other creatures alongside humanity. The flowers of the forest proclaim their Maker’s love without being aware of his presence or love.
There is a depth in ordinary things, but only if we notice. A connection that leaves us speechless can take place, but only if we happen to be aware. “All things, therefore, are charged with love, are charged with God, and if we know how to touch them, give off sparks and take fire, yield drops and flow, ring and tell of him” (Poems, Gerald Manley Hopkins). I think Jesus loved nature and the countryside. “You must come away to some lonely place and rest for a while,” he said to the worn-out apostles. These very words from Sunday’s Gospel have started a thousand or more retreats. Instead of allowing them to savour the time together crowds followed, hungering for his attention. Instead of resenting the intrusion Jesus identified with them, feeling not condescension but compassion, and he began explaining to them about the God he believed in.
He taught them that God is like a father who never gives up until he has forgiven the wrong done and overcome rejection with compassion. “Be compassionate as your heavenly Father is compassionate” is a bold summary from Jesus of who God is and the real level of humanity for which we are made – Luke 6: 36. God is the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Father, the Good Shepherd, the one who heals and restores to life. The cry of the blind man in Jericho was louder for Jesus than the cry of those who tried to silence him: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me” – Luke 18: 38. Jesus revealed a God whose nature is to care for all, especially the disadvantaged and downtrodden. “The Lord is kind and full of compassion,/ slow to anger, abounding in love./ How good is the Lord to all, compassionate to all his creatures” – Psalm 144: 8-9.
This is the God that Jesus came to reveal to the world. It’s a far cry from the judgmental God of fear and punishment that many Catholics in the past took for granted. “These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name”- John 20: 31. Life though his name means life to the full – eternal life here below, life in the Kingdom. Donal Dorr reminds us that Jesus showed us how to be human and how to live as humans. To be human is to be compassionate and aware. The Good Samaritan didn’t stop at merely seeing the dying man but became involved in a heartfelt and even visceral way – Luke 10: 25-37. That’s what it means to be human.
Fr. QQ – 7/14/2021
Mercy, not kinship, makes someone a neighbour – St. Ambrose