Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on November 16, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 18:1-8

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’” The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Yesterday’s gospel suggested that while we go about the humdrum of daily life, the presence of God can so transform our existence that even while we perform very simple acts, like sleeping or accomplishing a monotonous chore, our lives become transcendent. Today’s gospel, the passage which follows immediately on yesterday’s reading, tells us how. Jesus counsels us to pray always. I do not believe this is an idle teaching. For most of us, prayer seems like a mechanical activity which we may do just at certain times and certain situations, like while standing or kneeling in the pews on Sunday. Jesus in today’s gospel is telling us that prayer is as essential to our lives as breathing. We, however, are really busy, and creating space, both physical and temporal, for prayer, given all the pressures exerted on daily existence, is difficult. Jesus also was very busy, but his counsel that we pray always suggests he had an attitude and outlook on prayer which was not the same as ours. For Jesus, to pray meant living continually in God’s presence. As Blessed Charles de Foucauld observed, “Our entire person should breathe Jesus. All our actions and our entire life should proclaim that we belong to Jesus.” Even our smiling can be a song of praise to God. Praying in the broadest sense means that our whole lives tell, as Charles concluded, “Jesus lives within us, by the way that our actions are Jesus’ actions, working in and through us.” Prayer, in the sense of unceasing prayer, is cultivating an awareness of God’s presence from moment to moment in our lives. Jesus is inviting us in this gospel passage to become incarnate prayer.

Saint of the day: In the early hours of November 16, 1989, US-trained commandos of the Salvadoran armed forces entered the campus of the Jesuits’ university, the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA), and brutally murdered six Jesuits together with two women who were sleeping in a parlor attached to their residence. The Jesuits were: the university rector Ignacio Ellacuría, 59, an internationally known 942198_10151708601886496_417713674_nphilosopher; Segundo Montes, 56, head of the Sociology Department and the UCA’s human rights institute; Ignacio Martín-Baró, 44, the pioneering social psychologist who headed the Psychology Department and the polling institute; theology professors Juan Ramón Moreno, 56, and Armando López, 53; and Joaquín López y López, 71, founding head of the Fe y Alegría network of schools for the poor. Joaquín was the only native Salvadoran, the others having arrived long before from Spain as young seminarians. Julia Elba Ramos, the wife of a caretaker at the UCA, and their daughter Celina, 16, were eliminated to ensure that there would be no witnesses. Ironically, the women had sought refuge from the noise of gunfire near their cottage on the edge of the campus. Julia Elba cooked for the Jesuit seminarians living near the UCA.

04_jesuit-muralAs early as the 1990s, the UCA massacre became the crime that would not go away. Thanks to international pressure, including a US Congressional Task Force, we learned who the real killers were. Outraged US citizens, especially Catholics, pressured their government to cut off the military aid that was indispensable for the conduct of the war. By then, it was becoming more difficult to justify the war as a defence against the international Communist threat. The massacre at the UCA took place at exactly the time that Berliners began knocking down their famous iron curtain wall. In El Salvador, the scandal generated by the murders helped to speed up the peace negotiations and later, by discrediting the Salvadoran military, to consolidate the peace. Like many others, the UCA martyrs were killed for the way they lived, that is, for how they expressed their faith in love.

Spiritual reading: May my soul bless you, O Lord God my Creator, may my soul bless you. From the very core of my being may all your merciful gifts sing your praise. Your generous care for your daughter has been rich in mercy; indeed it has been immeasurable, and as far as I am able I give you thanks. (Gertrude the Great)


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