“But I say to you, Love your Enemies”

 

Reflection for the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time by Br. Paul Crawford, FAN Board Treasurer

This reflection was originally posted in our February 13th newsletter


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Photo Credit: Mike Simons

This week’s Gospel is a story that we, who profess that Jesus is Lord, can understand and relate to but do we live it?

The Lord indeed is kind and merciful to us, but sometimes we, as followers of Jesus and Sons and Daughters of St. Francis and St. Clare, are not as gracious as the Lord is to us.

There seems to be a human condition that we are all called to overcome within ourselves and perhaps even more so in our society today seeing each other as equals, as brothers and sisters, whom can have common goals and ambitions. But do we spend the time in listening, in encountering others that are outside the safe spaces in our lives? Do our fears overcome God’s call to be Holy, to bear no grudge, to welcome the stranger as our brother or sister?

All this reminds me of a birthday gathering years ago of one of our oldest friars. He had been in our infirmary for many years because of poor health. His family had all passed away as well as most brothers who were near him in age. He had had over 70 years in the community at the time of his 91st birthday. As was our custom at that time, our older birthday brother was brought downstairs for a pre-dinner gathering. It was festive and being a newer member of the community I enjoyed the stories and sharings of his life, family and ministry over his many years. But in the midst of the stories he was asked if he ever had a difficult time in religious life or in his ministry. He thought for a moment or two and then said that he at times found it difficult and challenging to live with some brothers and working with some brothers and some people in ministry.

He mentioned the difficult times and seemed to have a very tough time talking about the brothers who were in charge of his formation in the early days of his religious life. He then said that he felt as if they were against him and became almost enemies to him. He was asked, “So, how did you overcome that feeling, or do you feel better about them now?” His answer caused a uneasy laughter among us. He said,”Hey, I outlived them all and proved them wrong!”

In our own lives, there are times when others have caused us pain or misunderstandings. So, the Gospel’s call to pray for those who persecute you is a personal call for us all. I have found that when I do pray for those that I have a difficult or challenging time with, I tend to feel different about them. So prayer does work better than a curse. But it not easy to do.

Recently, I was touched by a song that really speaks to me on seeing my enemy as my brother. There is a video posted at Aleteia.org originally by The Brilliance which is well worth watching. “When I look into the face of my enemy, I see my brother.” Sung by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and the group Brilliance.

So, pray to understand those that you can not understand.
Accept that with God, change takes time. For ourselves and for others.
Believe that God is with you through this all.
Forgive, yourself and one another!

Brother Paul Crawford, OFM Cap.
FAN Board Treasurer

Published in: on February 14, 2017 at 9:25 am  Leave a Comment  

Time to Make Clear Choices

Reflection for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN staff, Sr. Marie Lucey

This reflection was originally posted in our February 6 newsletter


doorways-5We are living in an unprecedented time in our nation’s history. Many of us now feel like strangers in the land that we have known and loved, with its faults, its limitations, and its treasured values of freedom and welcome to all. Day after day, Executive Orders are issued that challenge both our faith values and our American values. These include orders to build a wall, further militarize the southern border, stop refugee resettlement, ban all travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries, and more. Fortunately, pushback has been strong. Thousands of people have shown up at airports to welcome refugees; thousands in cities across the country have gathered to protest. Leaders of the US Bishops Conference have issued statements opposing Executive Orders which threaten vulnerable people seeking refuge from violence in both the Middle East and the Northern Triangle countries of Central America.

This is a time that calls for action by all of us. We can all do something even if we cannot march or participate in public protests. We can all make phone calls to legislators. We can organize refugee support groups in our parishes that reach out to refugees and to Muslims. We can educate ourselves and others about the Executive Orders and their impacts on vulnerable people. We can visit the website of the USCCB to see a statement of solidarity with the Muslim community, and visit the FAN website to find the FAN statement in support of refugees and suggested actions. As Christians, as Franciscans, we pray, we organize, we advocate, we reach out to sisters and brothers impacted by harmful Executive Orders that play falsely on people’s fears.

This week’s scriptures challenge us to make clear choices. Sirach tells the people, to choose; God has set before them fire and water, life and death, good and evil. It is theirs to choose if they are to live. In the Gospel, Jesus calls us to do more than the minimum of obeying the law. The “shalt –nots” of the law are not abolished but are a minimal response to his “good news.” “But I say to you. . .” goes beyond the commandments to the law of love, to what is in the heart. He concludes, “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Now is a time for clear choices in defense of our faith values and American values. To what do I say ‘’Yes?” To what do I say “No?” What actions do I take to verify my “Yes” and my “No?”

For reflection: February 12 is also the birthday of Abraham Lincoln. This quote is as applicable in 2017 as it was 150 years ago: “I dream of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the best last hope of earth.” What will I do today to restore that dream?

Sr. Marie Lucey
FAN Director of Advocacy

Published in: on February 7, 2017 at 11:21 am  Leave a Comment  

​Franciscans, March for Life, and President Trump

by Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, FAN Board Member and Associate Pastor at St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring, MD.

Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM

Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM


Fr. Jacek hopes this reflection can help amplify the “Franciscan perspective on the March for Life in ways that may help to heal the deep political and ideological rifts in our country and our ministries.”

A gusty wind pressed against the large vinyl banner.  The message emblazoned on it proclaimed: Choose Life!  Support Consistent Ethic of Life.  Listed below were specifics: abortion; destruction of earth’s ecosystems; injustice; nuclear weapons; pandering to fear; racism; social inequality; torture – all those were crossed out. I tightened up my grip on the pole supporting the banner: I grasped it firmly; I would not let it go.

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As I watched thousands of people walking by, I was encouraged to see so many idealistic young people Marching for Life and proclaiming themselves advocates of the next pro-life generation. Their sheer youthful exuberance reminded me of the World Youth Day back in 1991 in Czestochowa, Poland. There, Pope John Paul II challenged me and other young people to defend the right to life, and to work for justice, solidarity and peace.He summoned us to safeguard God’s creation, to get involved in healthy politics, and to become partners in building a “civilization of love” based on Catholic Social teachings. That inclusive, holistic vision and its challenge have animated my Franciscan and priestly vocation.

I do not doubt the sincerity of the many people attending the annual March for Life – I myself have been one of them for many years. Abortion represents a serious moral issue and yet many people remain unmoved. Abortion constitutes a glaring evil. At ten weeks, the unborn child is just two inches long. His or her heart has been beating for several weeks. All organs are present and the unborn child can feel pain. The only thing it doesn’t have is the right to life, the right to enter this world.

However, as I marched this year, I saw people carrying Trump signs, wearing hats and shirts with his nationalistic slogans and applauding Kellyanne Conway who attempted to cast President Trump as the arch-defender of life. I cringed. I fear that too many well-intentioned, faith-filled people may be, in fact, willing to sacrifice the integrity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the name of the political expediency and partisan gain. Many, no doubt, support the president in the hope of overturning Roe vs. Wade, even if it means cutting serious moral corners to achieve that end. Moral myopia is nothing new.  The Women’s Suffrage movement turned a blind eye to the plight of black women, lest it diminish its chances of gaining the vote for “women.” Many, no doubt, saw this as a pragmatic decision and rationalized their approach: first white women and then all women.

We must not be fooled into accepting a false choice between protecting the right to life of the unborn on one hand and, on the other, opposing torture, xenophobia, callousness towards the poor, the immigrant, the refugee. When someone in power glibly toys with the diabolic possibility of using nuclear weapons – he is no defender of life in all its forms. When those in positions of power dispute basic scientific facts and blithely push the human civilization over the cliff of sweeping environmental degradation, they condemn hundreds of millions of vulnerable people to misery and likely death – that is not a pro-life stand. Here, a historical perspective might be helpful. One of the worst tyrants and mass murderers of the 20th century was Mao Zedong who was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 65 million Chinese during the so-called Cultural Revolution. Yet, he encouraged large families and outlawed abortion and contraception. The point is: just because someone is against abortion, doesn’t mean that he’s pro-life. Our opposition to abortion must reflect an overarching and all-encompassing pro-life stance. It must not discriminate among life issues, embracing some and discarding others or downplaying still others. Abortion is a grave moral evil because it betrays life. The sanctity of life demands a comprehensive approach to all life-compromising evils.

I believe that, as Franciscans we have a singular contribution to make to the pro-life cause. We must seize the opportunity to help the Faith-based pro-life movement to see itself as striving to achieve a more consistent and holistic approach. We are called to help overcome the tragic fragmentation so rampant in our society and, instead, to foster integration between various issues and approaches. It is part of our Franciscan journey of conversion to make all things new in Christ. And, in doing so to be more faithful stewards of God’s creation and defenders of all that brings forth life.

In the Gospel of Luke, we read that Jesus came to bring the good news to the poor, to open the eyes of the blind and to bring liberty to captives. When we reflect on the present acute divisiveness along the political fault-lines that we see in our country – and sometimes even in our friaries – we must ask ourselves: what ideological blinds spots can each one of us claim as his own? What keeps us captives? Is it the kind of news media that we consume and inform our minds and hearts? Is it the pre-conceived notions about the “other” that we cling to? Or, have we become single-focus people who have lost our appreciation of the totality of our Christian vocation? Surrounded by ideologues and partisan rock throwers, have we become willing to cast the first or the second or the third stone? Have we forgotten that throwing stones is reserved for those without sin?

The March for Life has become one of those venues where I seek to hold up the integrity of the Gospel message and to engage in respectful dialogue those with whom I don’t always see eye-to-eye. I do so in the belief that truth will emerge.

Our Franciscan tradition speaks of life as journey, a way of beauty. As we walk together on that path, we learn how to see, think, feel and act correctly. Rediscovering our vocation to be spiritual and social artists, we as Franciscans can help reconcile the apparently opposing elements, weave things together into a beautiful seamless garment of life that would reveal the face of God.

-Jacek Orzechowski, OFM

Published in: on February 1, 2017 at 8:59 am  Comments (2)  

Why I took the Plunge

 by FAN board member, Kelly Moltzen after her Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday, January 28, 2017


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Kelly Moltzen (center) with other plungers at 2017 Polar Bear Plunge

I took a Polar Bear Plunge today with the Franciscan Action Network and Climate Caretakers, a global community of Christians committed to prayer and action on climate change.  Companies that plunder land for oil and fracked gas, cut down rainforests, and use industrial agriculture contribute to air pollution and climate change, leading to extreme weather, droughts, sea level rise, and food scarcity. These lead to health disparities and hit the poorest and most vulnerable communities around the world first.

Meanwhile, President Trump is allowing business priorities to come before democracy, through his executive actions and his Cabinet picks. As Naomi Klein said in The Nation, “It’s a corporate takeover….After decades of privatizing the state in bits and pieces, they decided to just go for the government itself.”  Unless we put a cap on the capitalist greed of Trump and his administration, it’s going to lead to a genocide.  I jumped in some icy cold water to raise money to help the Franciscan Action Network do climate justice workshops with the faith community. Now we need policy action. We need to reject Rex Tillerson’s nomination as Secretary of State and reject Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Tillerson has been working for ExxonMobil since 1975 and has been CEO since 2006.  Especially now after at least four senior officials at the State Department resigned Wednesday, we cannot leave the State Department in the hands of a man who was the chief executive of the world’s largest publicly traded international oil and gas company. Companies like Exxon are a large reason why the whole climate denial industry exists.

Land grabs that companies like Exxon have done lead to outbreaks of violence over land and inability of people to access resources they need to survive. As a result, we have climate refugees and immigrants from our neighbors in the south, middle east and Africa, people who Trump is now banning from entering the U.S. Trump calls himself a Christian, but Pope Francis calls out the hypocrisy of calling oneself a Christian while chasing away a refugee or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, or someone in need of help, citing Matthew 25.  In addition to the wall President Trump wants to build between the U.S. and Mexico, he has banned immigrants coming from seven countries just because they are predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia), but has excluded countries where he has business ties (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey).  Meanwhile, these seven are not the countries that Islamic terrorists have come from since 9/11, and being Muslim is not equated with being an Islamic terrorist.

Scott Pruitt is known for previously suing the EPA which he is now being selected to lead.  He has a history of having industry lobbyists draft letters which he put onto government stationary, that pressed the federal government to back down on proposals to tighten controls over energy production, such as oil and gas wells that can release planet-warming methane. In his confirmation hearing, Pruitt refused to commit to recusing himself from any existing open cases he brought against the EPA as Oklahoma Attorney General. This raises additional ethics concerns.

Let’s work together and stand with our brothers and sisters across the world, starting by rejecting Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA.

You can contact your Congress member by using the Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121. John Elwood from Climate Caretakers (who also did the Polar Bear Plunge!) has started a Facebook group called “Call Congress Today” where we can keep each other updated on the most pertinent calls to make about climate change and other important issues.

In solidarity,
Kelly

Kelly Moltzen, MPH, RD
Program Manager, Bronx Health REACH
Board Member, Franciscan Action Network

Published in: on January 31, 2017 at 1:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Salt of the Earth, Light of the World

Reflection for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board Member, Sr. Marge Wissman

This reflection was originally posted in our January 30th newsletter


light3In this Sunday’s Gospel (Mt 5:13-16) Jesus tells his disciples “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world.” We are now the disciples and these two images emphasize our call to be engaged in the world. The time for hiding, quiet caution and fear is over! Now is the time to be bold, to shine bright so that everyone knows what we as disciples stand for. We are living in a time when our boldness and bright light must overcome our fear and caution.

At this moment in history we are called to stand boldly and brightly for Creation, for our Brothers and Sisters no matter what race, nationality, religion or sexual orientation, and for truth. We need to be the Salt that adds flavor and taste to a bold kindness, caring and resistance. Jesus told us not to hide in quiet caution and fear under a bushel basket but be a light to shine in a world that desperately needs us now to assume the role of a bright light in a country that has been covered in darkness. To quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only Love can do that.” Many of us have been salt and light in the world but at the present time we are called to be that “Instrument of Peace” with even more flavor and an even brighter light.

Sr. Marge Wissman
FAN Board Member

Published in: on January 31, 2017 at 9:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Christians Must Stand with Refugees and Migrants

Re-Posted from “Dating God” blog by Daniel P. Horan, OFM

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From a candidate who campaigned on wanting to make “America great again,” we’ve seen little in the first two weeks of his administration to suggest anything other than what many suspected in President Trump’s election slogan: a not-so-subtle nod to an era in which things were hardly ‘great’ for anyone other than a propertied, white, straight, male, Christian, U.S. citizen. The greatness of the United States rests in its self-narrated hagiography as a land of opportunity, freedom, and inclusion. This is supposed to be a nation in which, as we read on the Statue of Liberty’s inscription, we proclaim: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Instead, the new president has rejected many of the most vulnerable, seeking to close the door to those who are from predominantly Muslim countries and effectively establishing a religious test in violation of the United States Constitution. Furthermore, as two former White House ethics chiefs (a bipartisan team of a Democrat and a Republican) recently wrote, Trump’s ban conveniently avoids restricting travel for those most likely to be business partners for Trump.

Whereas this move, along with several other early executive actions, casts not hope but fear and grave concern, there has been the tiniest of silver linings. Read More…

Published in: on January 30, 2017 at 4:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Now is the Time to Act!

“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures!” (Dan Rather)  

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This is only the first week of the new Administration, but every day executive actions are issued that counteract positions that FAN has taken based on our mission of promoting human rights, care for creation and peacemaking. On Saturday, January 21, some FAN staff members and probably many FAN members across the country participated in the massive Women’s March. FAN staff walked with an interfaith group calling for immigrant and refugee rights. On Tuesday, the President took action to move the Keystone and Dakota access pipelines forward. On Wednesday, the Administration issued orders about building the wall and taking action against sanctuary cities. Refugee resettlement is likely to be halted. FAN issued public statements on these executive orders (Find the refugee statement and press release on the pipelines on our website).

Each of us is challenged to speak up and stand up with immigrant and refugee sisters and brothers, defenders of Mother Earth and Native American peoples. The momentum of the Women’s March must be carried into action. Justice for Immigrants (JFI) issued an action alert about supporting the Bridge Act. Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) issued an alert on behalf of refugees. The Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC) plans webinars for January 30 and February 6, and sent a series of actions to take to oppose harmful Executive Orders, including building the wall, and support immigrants and refugees.

All of these actions are posted by FAN, most often via our weekly newsletter. FAN staff participates in legislative visits and local press conferences and rallies here in the capital, BUT the most important actions must be taken by FAN members and supporters all across the country. Each person is encouraged to assess what you have already done, what action you have already taken, and consider what would be the NEXT STEP for you.

If you have never made a phone call to the office of your Senators and Representative, now is the time to do it, not just once but every week. (To support refugees, call 1-866-940-2439 to be connected with your Senators and Rep.) You can also tell them you oppose building the wall, or that you want them to support the Bridge Act. If you have made calls, but never visited a legislator’s office, now is the time to arrange a visit with a few others. If there is a public rally near you, consider participating in it. If you have never written a Letter to the Editor, consider writing one. (Toolkits are on JFI and IIC websites.)

Today, January 27, FAN staff members participated in the March for Life in DC, joining a Franciscan parish and the Pax Christi local chapter. Our banners proclaimed a Consistent Life Ethic, opposing abortion, death penalty, nuclear arms, destruction of Earth, social inequality, torture. May we carry our concerns for human life, human rights, and for all Creation into the days, weeks, and months ahead by engaging in action. We believe that this is the work of proclaiming the Gospel now, in this extraordinary time.

Peace and All Good,
Sr. Marie Lucey

Published in: on January 30, 2017 at 10:33 am  Leave a Comment  

The Beatitudes: A Program of Nonviolence

Reflection for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board Member, Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF

This reflection was originally posted in our January 23rd newsletter


peace-sign-in-a-parkWe are just days into a new leadership team that has taken charge of our national government with the purpose, along with we the people, “to form a more perfect union, establish justice … promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and to our children.” (Preamble to the Constitution of the United States) In the January 1st World Day of Peace message, Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace, Pope Francis refers to the Beatitudes as, “a programme and a challenge for political and religious leaders, the heads of international institutions, and business and media executives, to apply the Beatitudes in the exercise of their respective responsibilities. It is a challenge to build up society, communities and businesses by acting as peacemakers. It is to show mercy by refusing to discard people, harm the environment, or seek to win at any cost.”

Pope Francis teaches that the Beatitudes can help us realize the significance of “being more over having more.” Our new presidential administration is comprised of individuals whose material resources render this cabinet the wealthiest in history. In the next few years, each of these individuals will leave a legacy of who they are as human beings by how they utilized their time in office. Will they use their position to advance and multiply their own wealth or will their actions and policies serve to acknowledge the dignity of “we the people” and include support for the most vulnerable in our nation and world? Will God’s creation suffer further devastation or will measures be put into place in attempts to sustain and restore our endangered Earth?

Each of us who attempts to follow in the footsteps of the nonviolent Jesus is called to do all we can to “secure justice for the oppressed, set captives free, raise up those who were bowed down, and protect strangers” (Psalm 146) As we pray for our new national leaders we live with hope that their actions will be rooted in justice and peace for all human beings on earth and for all God’s creation. Yet, as environmentalist David Orr reminds us, “hope is a verb with your shirt sleeves rolled up.” As “we the people,” let us remember history teaches that “change in the lives of people, nations and states have come about ‘by means of peaceful protest, using only the weapons of truth and justice… by the non-violent commitment of people who, while always refusing to yield to the force of power, succeeded time after time in finding effective ways of bearing witness to the truth.’” (Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace) Let us pray for the grace to always follow the program of nonviolence outlined in the Beatitudes as we attempt each day to bear witness to the truth.

Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF
FAN Board Secretary

Published in: on January 24, 2017 at 9:42 am  Leave a Comment  

The Cross: Symbol of Reconciliation and Unity

Reflection for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board President, Sr. Margaret Magee

This reflection was originally posted in our January 16 newsletter


weekchristianprayerOur readings this Sunday proclaim a clear message, prophecy is fulfilled in the person of Christ Jesus. The evangelist Matthew recalls the words of the prophet Isaiah that the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali are lands settled by foreigners. Isaiah calls these lands “a place of darkness” because in his time they were densely populated by non-believers, people who Isaiah would have referred to as pagans. For Isaiah, the few faithful Israelites remaining in these lands had difficulty holding onto their ancestral faith and traditions.

In the time of Jesus this same area was renamed Galilee, “Galilee of the Gentiles” as we hear in the Gospel. Though mostly populated by the Israelites, Galilee was surrounded by those they considered non-believers or Gentiles. They were looked down upon by many of the Jewish people because they feared the other, the pagan cultural influences that would weaken their faith.

In the time of Jesus, this region of Galilee had also become an occupied territory. Conquered by Rome and ruled by the Roman, Herod Antipas. We know him through the scriptures as “Herod the Tetrarch” or King Herod, whose brutality and intolerance of anyone who threatened his power, was legendary.

Jesus, the Christ, entered into an ethnically diverse land that was filled with mistrust and suspicion of those who were seen as different and suspect. It was also a society manipulated by oppression, violence, hatred and death.

Jesus came in simplicity and humility proclaiming a Kingdom of hope, light and justice for all people. Yet divisions, rivalries, and suspicion were evident even among those who would come to believe in Christ and formed one of the earliest Christian communities in Corinth. Paul, disheartened by the news from Corinth wrote insisting, “that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose…so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.” The cross of Christ, Crucified Love, is the symbol of reconciliation and unity.

The World Council of Churches has chosen the theme, Reconciliation-The Love of Christ Compels Us for this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25, 2017). This week marks the 500th anniversary year of the beginnings of the Reformation. The resource for worship published by the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches states, “The love of Christ compels us to pray, but also to move beyond our prayers for unity among Christians. Congregations and churches need the gift of God’s reconciliation as a wellspring of life. But above all, they need it for their common witness to the world…The world needs ministers of reconciliation, who will break down barriers, build bridges, make peace, and open doors to new ways of life in the name of the one who reconciled us to God, Jesus Christ…May people and churches be compelled by the love of Christ to live reconciled lives and to break down the walls that divide!”

Our Franciscan charism and spirituality calls us to be Christic peacemakers, instruments of peace. Francis of Assisi was truly a man of peace and reconciliation. Francis lived, embodied, and witnessed the person of Jesus Christ by breaking down barriers and seeing all people and all creation as sister and brother. In doing so, Francis became visibly marked by the wounds of Divine Love, the stigmata.  May we be the visible instruments of God’s presence opening doors to reconciliation, creating new relationships and new ways of building up the Kingdom of God.

Margaret Magee, OSF
FAN Board President

Published in: on January 17, 2017 at 8:42 am  Leave a Comment  

“I Do Not Know Him”

Reflection for the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board Member, Ms. Carolyn Townes

This reflection was originally posted in our January 9th newsletter


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“As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that you have greater peace in your hearts.” ~ Saint Francis of Assisi, as quoted in 2017 World Day of Peace Message

In this season of Ordinary Time, there is nothing ordinary about our journey with Jesus. During ordinary time, we pause to get to know Jesus, as the nonviolent Prince of Peace. In this Sunday’s Gospel, John the Baptist, who was ordained from the womb to be the Prophet of the Most High, had to admit “I do not know him.” Of all the people who would have known the coming Messiah, you would think it would be John; who was the greatest born of woman, as Jesus described him.

The festivities are over so we can sit down, breathe and get to know the reason for all our seasons. Jesus came to bring us abundant life, but we must accept and receive this gift of abundant life. How do we get to know Jesus? By listening to him. We don’t know a person if we don’t take the time to listen to him or her. It is in the listening that we learn about the person. We learn about their likes and dislikes; their joys and sorrows; their hopes and dreams. And then, they listen to us. This is how conversation happens and in true conversation, there is conversion – a constant turning and shifting. A turning and shifting towards new ideas and information we learn as we listen. We don’t have to agree with what we are hearing, but we must remain respectful in the listening process. To truly listen to someone is a kind and loving act. This is pivotal to nonviolent living, living like Jesus.

When we read, share and meditate on the Gospels, we get to know Jesus more and more. And if necessary, we ask questions of the Spirit of God for clarity. John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus was he the one sent from God or should they keep looking. John needed clarity because even he “did not know him.” Just for today, pause, listen and get to know the Lord.

Carolyn D. Townes, OFS
National Animator, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation
U.S. Secular Franciscan Order
FAN Board Member

Published in: on January 10, 2017 at 9:37 am  Leave a Comment