Woe to You ... a reflection on today's readings

I was honored to be invited to reflect on today's readings today at a communion service at west coast groovy sister hq today, which is where many of our retired Sisters live. Of course, this is also quite a daunting task, because these women are so wise ... what can I say?  But still, it's a nice opportunity to break open the word with community.  Here is the reflection I gave this morning:

I have a confession to make ... I've been sitting with today's Scriptures for a week now, and wondering ... what can I possibly say?

In the first reading we have 'flushed with shame,'  'evils and curses' and 'wicked hearts.'  In the psalm we have 'defiled your holy temple' and 'your jealousy will burn like fire.' And in the gospel, we have 'sackcloth and ashes,' 'netherworld,' and 'rejection.'

These are not exactly happy thoughts!  I found myself thinking ... I should look more closely at the readings before I agree to offer another reflection!

But then I realized that today is the feast of St. Jerome, who of course was a Scripture Scholar who undertook the 30 year task of revising and translating the Latin Bible, or Vulgate.

He also apparently was known for having a bad temper--if not a violent one--which must have been very evident to his peers since it made it into his hagiography.  It's always nice when our holy men and women also prove to be human.

But in terms of the task before me, trying to break open these particular Scripture passages, I found inspiration in these words of St. Jerome:  "I interpret as I should, following the command of Christ: 'Search the Scriptures' and 'Seek and you shall find.'"

So I went back to the Gospel.  What's the message here for me ... for you?

'Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented! ... As for you Capernaum ..."

You may have known this, but it was news to me that these three cities were located within 2 to 3 miles of each other.  They formed an "Evangelical Triangle" where Jesus spent most of his ministry.  Here he preached the good news, healed the sick, welcomed the outcast ... and yet they apparently did not see the wondrous things happening in their midst.

Perhaps they were like the folks who put together our nightly newscasts (and those of us who watch them), so focused on the robberies, murders and disasters of daily life that they missed seeing the signs of something new happening in their midst.  Peace, hope, love, justice and mercy.

So perhaps these readings today are an invitation not to focus on the fire and brimstone, or even the messiness of life, but to keep a keen eye and a listening ear attuned to the quiet workings of God in our own lives.

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