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Thursday Week 24 Year I

Print Version September 16th, 2003

Isn’t there a contrast between those two readings? Listen…
Noble, respectable, impeccable, responsible, reliable, moderate, sober, temperate, discreet, courteous—what a list of requirements—how many can you tick off for yourself? How many of Jesus’ disciples could lay claim to those qualities?
You know what the writer is saying—it’s not that it doesn’t make sense to choose someone on those merits—it’s just that good sense doesn’t seem to be the way Jesus chose at all.
To know how Jesus chose you only have to take a look at a word at the heart of today’s gospel—it appears here buried under the weak translation, ‘Jesus felt sorry’. ‘Felt sorry’. Some translators say ‘pity’ and others ‘compassion’ and in some places it’s ‘anger’. It’s an awkward Greek word with the sense of what you feel in your spleen. Jesus feels sorry for the woman—but powerfully, passionately… something convulses his bowels, turns his stomach over—that’s why he puts out his hand and brings a corpse to life.
Luke uses the word in only two other places: he uses it when the prodigal Father can’t help but rush down the road to meet his returning son; and he uses it in the story of the Good Samaritan, where the wrong person is stirred up to do the right thing.
Three events. Three characters who can’t help but act because they have experienced something so powerfully it grabs them in their guts. They experience the need, the pain, the joy, the life, of another human being and feel it like their own—in their innards. It takes a particular kind of weakness to let that happen. A real vulnerability. You don’t learn that vulnerability from a distance. You only learn it through your own pain, your own need, maybe only through failure … when our natural insulation one from another can no longer cope and the barriers go down.
Respectability, responsibility, and reliability aren’t yardsticks to measure ourselves by—instead we should be asking ourselves, ‘does suffering disturb me as much as it disturbs God?’ Because here is our God—vulnerable, disturbed, shaken—more moved by human lives than we ourselves are.

Entry Filed under: Homilies,Loyola Hall

2 Comments

  • 1. crystal  |  September 20th, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    This makes me think of that article by Fr. Buckley, Because Beset by Weakness.

  • 2. crystal  |  October 5th, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Would it be ok for me to use your homily in a post I’m doing for tomorrow about that book I’m reading, How Big Is Your God?


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