Monday, October 16, 2006

28th Monday in Ordinary Time (II)
From the Dungheap

Readings: Galatians 4:22-24, 26-27, 31–5:1; Psalms 113:1b-2, 3-4, 5a and 6-7; Luke 11:29-32

As we continue to listen to Paul scold the Galatians for their insistence on observing the Jewish Law, we might wonder why the latter are so eager to submit to the yoke of slavery when they have already been baptized into Christ, who meant us to remain free. What is it about the slavery of the Law – especially a Law that requires circumcision – that makes it so attractive, more attractive even than a life of Christian freedom?

We might ask the same question of the wicked generation that Jesus reproves in the gospel. Why do they stubbornly continue to insist on asking for a sign? What is it that keeps them from believing in Christ? What is it that keeps them from the repentance that leads to life?

Puzzling as they seem, the experiences of the Galatians and those in the gospel are perhaps not too far from our own. Are there not also times when we may succumb to the same stubbornness – times when we find it difficult to choose the obviously better option, the more reasonable and wiser alternative? In our heart of hearts, we probably have some idea of what is the right and proper thing to do. But something just seems to prevent us from taking that step. Like the prodigal son in the parable of Luke 15, we sometimes seem to prefer the swill of swine to feasting in the Father’s house. Again, we might wonder what it is that makes us act in this way.

Our responsorial psalm guides us to a possible answer to our question and a way out of our predicament. The psalmist praises God for doing one thing in particular: the Lord stoops down from the heights to look down… From the dust he lifts up the lowly, from the dungheap he raises the poor. It is God who rescues us. But first, we must be willing to see and acknowledge where we are. Like the prodigal son, we need to come to our senses. We need to recognize our poverty, our place on the dungheap, so that we might allow God to lift us up.

Where, if any, are the dungheaps in our life? And how is God reaching down to lift us up?

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