10/19/14, Children of God

TWENTY-NINTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME


REFLECTION

October, 19, 2014


     Scripture is full of stories about individuals whose lives have been touched by God in special ways-- Noah, Moses, Elijah, Job, Samson, Ruth, Mary, etc.

     In today’s first reading we hear about Cyrus, the King of Persia, who freed the Jews from captivity, and whose royal descendants, in subsequent years, helped the Jews to restore Jerusalem and their temple which had been plundered in the sixth century BC by Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon.  The Jewish prophet Isaiah proclaimed that the Lord had called Cyrus by name. Cyrus was not even a Jew.  Yet, according to scripture, YHWH was with him.  It was the Lord who made him successful.  Many Jews of the time thought Cyrus was their long-awaited Messiah.

    

     In my own generation, there have been a number of people who appeared to me to have been graced by God in great measure, who have lived magnanimously, and who have dramatically effected the course of human history.  You’ve heard of them.  To name a few:

     Franklin Roosevelt was one of these people.  He was not a perfect man, but God graced him nonetheless.  He lived during a devastating economic disaster.  Though he was a rich man, he had empathy for those who were struggling to survive. He was the right man, in the right place, with the right tools at hand,  And he brought relief and security to victims of the Great Depression.  He died in 1945.

     Mahatma Gandahi was another contemporary, bigger-than-life person,  and leader of the Independence movement in British-ruled India.  He employed methods of nonviolent civil disobedience in South Africa against discrimination, and also later in India’s independence movements. He was assassinated in 1948. 

     Martin Luther King, was another imperfect man, but nonetheless he was empowered and graced to lead the American Civil Rights Movement using nonviolent civil disobedience as a method.  He was a profoundly moving speaker who was assassinated in 1968.

     Nelson Mandela was a South African revolutionary politician and philanthropist who spent 27 years in prison for his antiapartheid activities. He was a charismatic leader and speaker.  He served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.  He died of natural causes in 2013, and is held in high esteem by not only those in South Africa, but... everyone, everywhere.

     Of course, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who cared for the poorest of the poor, would have to be on this short list of graced, charismatic, God-touched people.  She  died in 1997. 

     I was delighted to hear recently that Malala Yousafzai, and Kailash Satyarthi were selected to share the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts on behalf of children.  Kailash has rescued thousands of children from forced labor and child trafficking.  Malala Yousafzai is an inspiration and example of hope for millions of Islamic girls.  She is also an inspired leader and speaker.


     A person might be tempted to think that only superheros can be saints.    That’s not the message here. No.  They did what they did for moms and dads, grandparents, ordinary working people out there trying to make ends meet.  They did what they did for the poor, and vulnerable, victimized people.  They did it for people who take care of other people, people oppressed by discrimination, people who seem to have nothing except possibly a little bit of hope, and love, and faith which keeps them going.  These are the people who are the inspiration of the saints.


     Yes, I believe God hand picked great saints down through the ages to change things, do things, move things in another direction.  God called them by name, and gifted them in extraordinary ways.  And, I believe that God did this, not so much for these saints as individuals, but for us, people like you and me.  As Paul, another gifted, charismatic, hand picked, superhero saint, said to the people of Thessalonica, in today’s second reading:  “We always thank God for all of you, and remember you in our prayers.  We call to mind before our God and creator how you (the people of Thessalonica) are proving your faith by your actions, laboring in love, and showing constancy of hope in our Savior Jesus Christ.”  Paul goes on to say, “We know, sisters and brothers, beloved of God, that you have been chosen.”  Finally Paul adds that the life he led,  “...was for their sake.”

     It would appear that for some unknown reason, the great saints seem to draw energy from the likes of ordinary, common people.   

     


     I don’t think most of us view ourselves as especially holy, or chosen, or beloved. We are immersed in a great mystery which Paul describes in Colossians.  He says, “Our lives are now hidden with Christ in God.”  He goes on to say, “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then we will also be revealed with him...”  

     On this subject, John’s first epistle says, “...what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.  Yet, so we are.  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  We are God’s children now.  What we shall be has not yet been revealed.  We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is.”

     As we love our own children, so God loves us.  This love is not merited.  Our children don’t have to be superheroes to be loved by us.  We just love them. 


     The Church ends the liturgical year on November 1 with the Solemnity of All Saints.  The readings are beautiful and encouraging.  The Litany of the Saints is usually chanted, or sung by cantors.  On that day, count yourselves, and your family members, your deceased relatives, and each other here at Lumen Christi, among those great saints, martyrs, and Children of God, who are being honored:  Cyrus, and St. Francis, and St. Therese, and St. Clare, St. Thomas Aquinas, and all the others... and you


by Marcia Lee