Body and Blood of Christ

Lectio

Drinking Well

 

A VOYAGE TOWARDS SOMETHING BETTER?

          

   While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly.  Then his son said, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.  But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.'  And they began to celebrate.                                                                                     Luke 15:20-24


Lectio

 

C an you think of one or two people who have been, or who still are, utterly special and dear to you?  I am reminded of a mother who described how she felt at the birth of her long awaited child; she held the baby in her arms and from the depths of her heart she said, ‘I would give my life for you.’  When I was growing up in the country, men did not talk much about their feelings; my father came home from the fair where he met a friend whose wife had died some months before; he said to my father, ‘I’m all broken up since herself passed away.’  Love songs in every generation remind us of the overwhelming experience of loving and being deeply loved, ‘It was not her beauty alone that won me; oh no, ‘twas the truth in her eyes ever dawning...’

     In everything that Jesus said and did he showed how utterly precious each person is.  The shepherd loses one of his sheep; he leaves the ninety-nine and searches until he finds it and brings it to safety.  The reckless and irresponsible prodigal son finally comes home; his father throws his arms around him and puts on a party to welcome him. 
 
The furthest away and the least
On the 17th of June ten Africans were drowned attempting to cross by boat from North Africa to the Italian island of Lampedusa, seventy miles away.  Pope Francis was deeply disturbed by this news.  Already this year some forty people have died attempting to make the same journey.  In 2012, almost 500 people were reported dead or missing at sea between Africa and Italy.  Pope Francis decided that his first trip outside of Rome after becoming Pope, would be to Lampedusa.  A banner greeted him as he arrived: ‘Welcome among the ultimi,’ a word that means those furthest away and the least.    
     As he celebrated Mass with the people gathered there, he said that he wanted to touch the conscience of everybody and challenge each person to change some attitudes in concrete ways.
     He reminded us of the first question God asked Adam after he disobeyed him in the garden of Eden, ‘Adam, where are you?’  In attempting to become as powerful as God, Adam lost his way, he can no longer care for the world in which he lives.  God’s second question is addressed to Cain after he has killed his brother Abel. ‘Where is your brother?’  Cain also lost his way and his brother is no longer a person to be loved, but simply someone who disturbs his life and his comfort.  Pope Francis said that what was true of Adam and of Cain, and is true of all of us as well.  We are no longer able to protect what God has created for all, and we are unable to care for one another.  When this losing of our way - this ‘disorientation’ - assumes world-wide dimensions, ‘we arrive at tragedies like the one we have seen.’ 

The globalisation of indifference

     Pope Francis insisted that God’s question, ‘Where is your brother?’ is addressed directly to each of us today.  Who is responsible for the deaths of those brothers and sisters who drowned on their way to Lampedusa?  Each of us says, ‘Not I, others are responsible, but certainly not me.’  The Pope says we have lost our sense of fraternal responsibility.  We are like the priest and the Levite in the Gospel story: we come upon the man, half-dead on the road, and we pass him by on the other side.  
     We have chosen to live in a ‘culture of comfort.’  We think of ourselves and become indifferent to the suffering of others.  This indifference is so widespread in the world today that the Pope refers to it as ‘the globalisation of indifference.’  ‘We are accustomed to the suffering of others, it doesn’t concern us, it’s none of our business.’   

Who has wept for these brothers and sisters?

     The Gospel of the Mass that day at Lampedusa told the story of the massacre of the Holy Innocents by King Herod, and the grief of the mothers of those children, which fulfilled the prophesy of Jeremiah:  ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loudly lamenting: it was Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they are no more.’  Pope Francis asked a third question, ‘Who among us has wept for these things, and things like this?” Who has wept for the deaths of these brothers and sisters? Who has wept for the people who were on the boat? For the young mothers carrying their babies? For these men who wanted something to support their families? We are a society that has forgotten the experience of weeping, of “suffering with”: the globalization of indifference has taken from us the ability to weep!’


                                                                            Brendan Clifford

Prayer: Pope Francis ended by asking us all to pray.  ‘Let us ask the Lord for the grace to weep over our indifference, to weep over the cruelty in the world, in ourselves, and even in those who anonymously make socio-economic decisions that open the way to tragedies like this.  
     O Lord, we ask forgiveness for the indifference towards so many brothers and sisters, we ask forgiveness for those who are pleased with themselves, who are closed in on their own well-being in a way that leads to the anaesthesia of the heart.  Forgive us, Lord!
     O Lord, even today let us hear your questions: “Adam, where are you?” “Where is the blood of your brother?” Amen.

                                                                                                      

from  St Martin Mag Sept 2013


 

 

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