Reflection for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Executive Director, Patrick Carolan
This reflection was originally posted in our October 17th newsletter
We live in very strange and disturbing times. According to Bread for the World, every day nearly 18,000 children die from hunger and hunger related disease. In the time it takes you to read this meditation around 60 innocent children of God will have died. We justifiably challenge our leaders and politicians who support the sin and evil of abortion, but we give a free pass and even honor those who contribute to the sin of hunger. We rationalize it by saying it is different. Sunday’s first reading from Sirach tells us: “The LORD is a God of justice, who knows no favorites…. yet he hears the cry of the oppressed. The Lord is not deaf to the wail of the orphan, nor to the widow when she pours out her complaint.” Our God certainly heard the cry of those 60 children who died in the last 5 minutes. Did we hear their cry?
In a few weeks we will be giving candy out to children at Halloween. The children will be smiling as we put a candy in their bags. We will be thinking how cute they look. Maybe we will be thinking about when we were young and went trick-or-treating. We probably will not give a second thought to the children who are trafficked and sold into slavery to pick the cocoa seeds used to make the candy. God will certainly hear the cry of those oppressed children. Will we?
In an article by Cindy Wooden at Catholic News Service, we are told Pope Francis spoke with a group of young people October 13th and was asked what the greatest sin is. His response is prophetic: “…the sickness or, you can say the sin, that Jesus condemns most is hypocrisy,” which is precisely what is happening when someone claims to be a Christian but does not live according to the teaching of Christ.
“You cannot be a Christian without living like a Christian,” he said. “You cannot be a Christian without practicing the Beatitudes. You cannot be a Christian without doing what Jesus teaches us in Matthew 25,” which is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and welcome the stranger.
“It’s hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, toss out someone who is in need of my help,” he said. “If I say I am Christian, but do these things, I’m a hypocrite.”
Luke’s Gospel reading starts with the statement, “Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.” The story goes on to talk about the two men, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee talks about how righteous he is, how he prays and gives money to charity. He does all the prescribed fasts and considers himself better than the sinners. The tax collector admits he is a sinner. We know how this story ends. In her book, Holy Thursday Revolution Beatrice Bruteau says Jesus’ teachings and actions mean “we are to deepen our purity beyond ritual observances and not let any purity practice divide us or set us at odds with our fellows.”
If we are so concerned with our rituals and our purity codes that we are not hearing the cry of the poor and oppressed and not acting on those cries, what does that make us?
FAN Executive Director