By Sr. Teresa Maya – September 2019.
Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Readings: Amos 6: 1, 4-7; Psalm 146: 7-10; 1 Tm 6: 11-16; LCWR 16:19-31
This Sunday we have our 2019/2020 CCVI Jubilarians with us, they are all in San Antonio to begin their jubilee year with a retreat. This weekend has been filled with the blessing of remembering. They have experienced the Culture of Encuentro. Listening to them share their story, their joys, and sorrows, but mostly their gratitude for having lived this CCVI life has been an incredible gift.
The readings today offer some challenges for reflection. I finally settled that this Sunday could be called the caution-to-couch-potatoes day! Both the first reading and the Gospel challenge us to leave our places of comfort. I am certain these places can be as simple as a Netflix series, or a mental attitude that claims reality is so overwhelming we cannot do anything about it!
But, as I pondered on what the Scripture invites all of us gathered today as a CCVI family welcoming our sister jubilarians, I wondered, how do we find our story in this biblical narrative?
Who are we in these Scripture readings? Are we the “complacent in Zion… stretched out comfortably on their couches” in Amos, or are we those who “keep faith securing justice for the oppressed” mentioned in the Psalm, or “the ones who made a noble confession,” or one of the “many witnesses” in the letter of Timothy? Are we the “rich man” desperate to send a warning to his family, or Lazarus trusting the providence of God? Who are we in these narratives? Perhaps we could say, we could be all of them at different times of our lives.
As I listened to the jubilarians share their journey, I am in awe of their stories, their struggles, the temptations they have had to overcome, the mistakes they made, the forgiveness offered. They have been both. Lazarus in need, desperate, and the rich man, the comfortable one, and there are so many ways to get comfortable.
Yet their stories offer beautiful witness to a life of faith. They have accepted the “exile” the prophet Amos offered, over and over again. They have been uncomfortable as they follow God’s call. Their commitment has kept them true to their journey. They have remembered, “the eternal life to which they were called.” This is where commitment holds you through. Today we accompany them as they begin the celebration of “the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
I wonder why Lazarus has a name and the rich man is just called that “the rich man.” Names matter. What is here to notice? Perhaps because there are so many ways to “dress in purple garments and dine sumptuously.” We could dine with our convictions that we are right about this and that, and leave those we disagree with, away from our tables and conversations. Or, we can be so busy that the situation of the Lazaruses in our world goes unnoticed or makes us shrug in despair, after all what could we do?
Yet here we are gathered with these CCVI sisters, our jubilarians who witness to a life of constant listening. Women who have listened to Moses and the prophets, who witness to a life of listening to the One who rose from the dead. Women who for many decades, if we add them all up, have shown us that this life the scriptures call us to can be lived, that it is possible. What a gift to be here with them.
They show us that listening and following God’s call is possible; not easy, but yes, possible.
I have heard in your stories, a life of faith is possible provided you are capable of recognizing the “couches” we settle into to, provided we are open to the exile and the lack of “comfort” implicated in the journey to “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.” Provided we are uncomfortable because we are hoping to “secure justice for the oppressed, give food to the hungry.” Provided you have a commitment to hold you true, a community to challenge and accompany you, and faith in the God an Incarnate ever-present among us.
There are a lot of “provided,” which makes me realize that we can follow our call to be men and women of justice, that listen to the words of the Resurrected one, ONLY if we trust this journey must be made with others and for others. The stories I hear in our jubilarians are ALL stories of accompaniment and community. There are so many names in their stories, and their gratitude overflows to all of those that taught, helped, explained, missioned, witnesses, loved, forgave them. I am certain this is what the scriptures today are challenging us to understand, your life is for others.
Sisters, thank you for this witness to all of us. This community gathered here is blessed in your jubilee, in your gratitude.
Thank you for being witnesses to the journey of faith.
May this year be filled with jubilee grace. May the double jubilee you celebrate- our Congregation’s 150th and yours- make you special witnesses to life for god and a heart for others.
You have our prayer and gratitude.
Praised be the Incarnate Word! IN each one of you.