Saint for the day: Elizabeth cousin to the BVM
Philippians 4:10-19 – Psalm 112 – Luke 16:9-15
The first reading today from Philippians tells us of St. Paul’s own experiences in being an apostle of Jesus Christ. He tells of the ups and downs along the way and is happy that the larger community still sees him and his ministry important to support and keep going. This fact alone might give us an insight into what is important in our ministry: the people whom we meet along the way. Often we dismiss this group as ‘non-essential’ to some greater work that we feel called to.
Today the Church remembers St. Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist. Not much is told of this women but her encounter with Mary (her cousin?) gives us an insight into how important our meetings are with those whom we encounter along the way. Elizabeth says, the moment your greeting came to me the babe in my womb leapt for joy.” What causes us to have this kind of “joy?” It has to be that encounter with the “God likeness” that we see in one another. I remember a time when we were at a huge Charismatic meeting and a small group of us were walking along the path of the Catholic College where the meeting was taking place. Coming down the path towards us we saw an older priest kind of mumbling his way along. He almost passed by us, but then stopped to single out a young women in our group to whom he said, “beautiful. Beautiful. You just radiate God’s joyful presence.” And off he went mumbling his way to wherever.
We have to remember, “every person we meet along the way is a kind of angel and a means of our growing closer to God. I remember another time when the Bishop came to our church for some kind of celebration. One of the parishioners had told me that she went to school with this bishop and she was so excited to have the opportunity to meet him after all these years. After the Mass when the Bishop was greeting folks she approached him saying, “Bishop, I’m so and so and we went to high school together…” Before she could even finish talking he gave a response that was short and curt, “Oh, yes, but so many did” and he turned to greet others. This lady was so hurt by that curt dismissal which has left a sad mark on her whole relationship with God and the Church. I’m sure that the bishop wasn’t aware of how hurt she was but it just goes to show how important every encounter is to us and to the Church.
In the Gospel, Jesus continues his warning about where we put our emphasis as we journey along the way. In this day and age when there’s so much focus on “global finances” it’s hard for us not to start thinking about money. It shouldn’t be a secret that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Something has gotten out of sync in our world and the people at the very top are basking in riches while millions of people don’t even have clean water or any food. In this scenario, the poor struggle to get some relief and often fall into illicit ways of eking out a living while the rich only look for ways to make more money. The shocking fact in all this is that we could take these same situations and transfer them back to any number of eras in world history and find the same things going on. Do we ever learn from our mistakes?
The forgiveness of Jesus is the only way out of this dilemma but that means we all must change our attitude about life and God’s blessings. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God… and all these things will be added unto you.” As GK Chesterton said, “It’s not that Christianity has been tried and failed. It’s more often the case that it hasn’t really been tried!” Amen!